Campaign extended! Our deadline has passed but you can still help.
Save & Rebuild Booker Washington Community Center
$115 raised
0% of $50k goal
4 contributors
4 Years running
The History of Booker

The Booker Washington Community Center was founded in 1916 as a War Camp Community Center. It was founded as the Colored Soldiers Club at 218 S. Main St., by Dr. Richard S. Grant to serve African-American soldiers from Camp ...
The History of Booker

The Booker Washington Community Center was founded in 1916 as a War Camp Community Center. It was founded as the Colored Soldiers Club at 218 S. Main St., by Dr. Richard S. Grant to serve African-American soldiers from Camp Grant who were excluded from other community centers. Dr. Grant developed a coalition of volunteers to staff the Center, and each week more than 300 soldiers found entertainment, recreation and relaxation at the Center. The Advisory Committee to the Colored Soldiers Club recognized that there was a need for a center of this nature for African-Americans in Rockford. Thus, the organization known as the Booker Washington Association, Incorporated began.

The purpose of the Center has always been to promote civic, educational, cultural, and recreational activities and programs to aid the community it serves. It has maintained a non-sectarian and non-political attitude in all its policies.

In 1936, the Center, along with Dr. William Fonvielle as President of the Board, was moved from S. Main Street to the present location at 524 Kent Street, which had been the Kent Elementary School. When World War II was declared, once again the Center was used to furnish recreation to soldiers housed at Camp Grant and surrounding areas. In fact, the Center operated a USO Club under the supervision of the Salvation Army. In addition to the USO Club, a War Day Nursery School was set up for working mothers. Since its inception, the Center has included activities for the whole family. These activities have always stressed growth in the following areas: Education, Culture, Recreation and Leadership.

In July of 1939, the Board of Education decided to sell Kent Street. Attorney David Connolly fought that sale all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, where it was ruled that Booker’s use of the school building was not in compliance with the original provision of the gift of the school site in 1956. The sale would proceed. All over the city, citizens, agencies and social groups rallied to save Booker. On December 6, 1946, Booker purchased the Kent School building and received deed to the property. In 1951, a new gymnasium was built at the Center so that the Center would have a year-round gym program.

Over the years programs changed to fit the needs of the people the Center served, be they pre-schoolers or Senior Citizens. It was with this in mind that in 1973, plans were developed to construct a Neighborhood Facilities Program that would bring agencies serving the community of Southwest Rockford into the very area itself. Subsequently, through government funding, the Social Service Center was built and its doors were opened in 1974. Also included in this construction was an outdoor plaza to be used for outdoor functions.

For the past seventy years, many dedicated people have given their time and been instrumental in the progress of the Center. Whatever the contribution was, it has greatly benefited those whom we serve. The solid foundation is the continuing support, love and kindness that Booker receives from the community.
Activity highlights See all5
Follow this campaign to receive updates by email.

People just like you

People just like you have raised $113,000,000+ for causes they and their friends care about.

Start your own campaign
Recent contributions