Our History

In December 2004, a group of former Paul Laurence Dunbar students held an organizational meeting at the Zeta-Sigma Building, 1305 Short Street, Salisbury, NC in response to a letter circulated by former student Arnethia Alexander-Daniels.

Mrs. Alexander-Daniels stated that the purpose of the meeting was to form an association and to discuss avenues to assist in the preservation of the Dunbar School buildings and grounds. She and her husband John secured information to apply for a school's listing as a national historical site on the national registry. The initial meeting resulted in the organization becoming incorporated as the Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc.

Current Officers

Margaret Ingram Jones


William Pete Kennedy

Vice President

Hazel Stout Kennedy


Brenda Stout Venning

Recording Secretary

Essie Graham Ruffin

Financial / Correspondence Secretary

The Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc. officers elected in 2004 were: President: Essie Graham Ruffin, Secretary: Patricia Neely-Stout, Assistant Secretary: Mary Allison Young, Financial Secretary: Annie Mitchell Cline, Treasurer: Hazel Stout Kennedy, Historical Committee: Arnethia Alexander-Daniels, Essie Kiser Foxx, and Willie Jean Boyd Kennedy

The founding officers and committee members along with Gretta Heath Saunders, Eugene Hill, John Ellis, Joanne Roberson Cunningham, Ada Anderson Smith, and John A. Daniels are recognized as charter members of the Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc.

The association filed for incorporation in 2005 under the leadership and supervision of William "Pete" Kennedy. Essie G. Ruffin, Annie M. Cline and William “Pete” Kennedy listed as incorporators to fulfill the association's mission statement completing requirements for the Federal 501 C- 3 statuses in 2006.

Mission Statement

"The Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc. consists of a group of diverse individuals committed to preserving the original physical structure and grounds of the school, along with any artifacts, as visible historical entities in the Salisbury- Rowan area. In addition, the group will engage in activities to promote service and fellowship among its members and the local community."

More History

Dunbar School Alumni Association, Inc. partnered with The Town of East Spencer in a proposal to purchase the Dunbar School which was renamed the Dunbar Center. The stated commitment was preserving the center - the physical structure, and the grounds as a viable historical entity. The association focused on sponsoring programs designed to promote lifelong service and fellowship among members and the local community. Unsuccessful in the purchase of the school property, the association elected to pivot and refocus the mission through awarding scholarships to relatives of former students, teachers, and administrations of the school.

Under the leadership of President William “Pete” Kennedy, 2006-2010, the association awarded three $500 scholarships in 2007. $4000 was awarded in 2008 and each year after during his tenure due to successful fundraisers and generous contributions.

Rev. Reginald Massey was elected president in 2010-2012 and 2015-2020, introducing the first Alumni Gala and first Alumni Parade.

Benjamin Davis Sr. assumed the presidency in 2012 and served until 2015. During his tenure, the association experienced a substantial increase in membership, scholarship giving, and community outreach.

In 2014 The Dunbar School Alumni Association Incorporation introduced and inducted former students and community leaders into its first Hall of Fame for their extraordinary accomplishments and service. Subsequently, additional members were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  • Essie Mae Kiser Foxx - Community Activist
  • John L. Rustin, Sr. - First African American Police Chief in Rowan County
  • Erza Gilliam - Dunbar Principal/Educator
  • John Krider Sr. - Entrepreneur
  • Douglas Holmes - Entrepreneur
  • William R. "Pete" Kennedy - Salisbury City Council/Entrepreneur
  • Willie Boyd Kennedy - Rowan-Salisbury School Board/Educator
  • Admiral Larry Poe - U. S. Navy/Ambassador to France
  • Reverend Reginald Massey - First African American Mayor Town of East Spencer, NC and first African American Chaplain at VA Medical Center
  • Arnethia Alexander-Daniels - DSAAI Charter Member/Educator
  • John A. Daniels - DSAAI Charter Member/Chemist
  • Benjamin Davis, Sr. - First Human Resource Professional Fieldcrest Cannon
  • Essie Graham Ruffin - First President of DSAAl/Technology Career

On October 26, 2012, a Fundraising Gala at the Salisbury Civic Center brought together many Dunbar alumni and other guests. The proceeds continued the mission of what is today called the heritage scholarships.

Margaret Ingram-Jones currently serves as the association's fifth president since 2020.

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