By Michelle Key
J. W. Darden High School alumni gathered at the homesite of Dr. J.W. Darden last Friday to honor a beloved educator for the 70th anniversary of the school’s founding. The school was the first high school in Opelika for African American students.
Nearly 20 years ago, Delores Trimble, a member of the class of 1954, had the idea to create a quilt to honor both the school and a favorite teacher, A.L. Martin. She contacted her classmate, Katie Burton and the J. W. Darden High School Alumni Association with her idea. After gaining their support, the project moved forward.
A representative from each class from 1951 to 1971 was given one quilt square to design. Over the years, Burton and Trimble started piecing the quilt together, bringing the unfinished project to several class reunions.
The quilt, now completed, was hung at the homesite of Darden, who was the first African American doctor in Lee County and Opelika.
During the dedication, Trimble shared her thoughts on the project which is now complete.
“They [The class of 1954 and the alumni association] accepted the idea to catch all the classes because Darden High School encompasses everybody and this was going to be something that could be here in the Darden house,” Trimble said. “Members of each class brought back their square and gave it to Katie and I and we went from there to pull this together.”
The quilt was important to Trimble and Burton because it represents an important part of Lee County history – history, that they want their children, grandchildren and future generations to be able to learn from.
“We just know that it will be in this building, even when we are gone, for our children and grandchildren to see what class we came from,” Trimble said.
Burton expressed gratitude that she was able to see the project come to fruition as well.
“This is amazing,” Burton said. “It is just a blessing to be here.”