Franklinton Center at Bricks is a Social Justice Conference and Retreat Center that hosts, educates, gathers and functions as the vessel for innovative approaches and outreaches focused on justice advocacy and leadership development. FCAB also serves the local community through various partner projects, intentional outreach and programming.
Nestled in rural Whitakers, N.C., what is now the Franklinton Center at Bricks (FCAB) sits on a former slave plantation that was transformed into one of the the first accredited schools for African Americans in the South. The fertile farmland of Franklinton Center at Bricks contains both tragedy and hope. The acres where tobacco and cotton once were harvested were part of a plantation known as the place to break unruly slaves. Through the ashes of that pre-Civil War horror, hope in the form of educational opportunity and leadership development was cultivated.
Franklinton Center at Bricks grew out of the union of two distinct entities: The Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial and Normal School (1895), founded by the American Missionary Association through the donation of Mrs. Julia Brewster Brick, and the Franklinton Christian College (1871) which was created by the economic contributions of churches of Churches of the Afro-Christian Convention. The schools merged in 1954.
Julia Bricks established the Bricks Junior College through a gift of land and endowment to the American Missionary Association. The AMA, begun by Congregationalists, opened schools across the South following the Civil War. Many of its schools still exist today. Similarly, Franklinton Christian College was started by the James O’Kelly Christian Church to train black leaders for local churches.
In the 21st century, Franklinton Center at Bricks plays a significant role in the education and nurture of community leaders, justice advocates, and young people. FCAB hosts and trains visiting groups on social justice issues, and also serves the local community. FCAB weaves rural justice, hunger issues, environmental racism, and workers’ rights into its programmatic focus.
Franklinton Center at Bricks still holds reminders of the past: three buildings from the original school still exist. The Bricks Museum at Memorial Hall offers a collection of historical documents that include photographs, paintings, artifacts, journals, and materials from the many lives of the site, including an early 20th-century post office and various schools.
FCAB partners with area organizations in a variety of outreach programs. The Whitakers area has one of the highest poverty and illiteracy rates in the country, and is one of the largest food desert in the United States. As part of its mission, FCAB offers youth and adult literacy classes, plus many other programs, including nutrition, sustainable agriculture, environmental awareness, and racial and social injustice.
Just as Franklinton Center transforms local communities, so, too, are we being transformed to better serve our community. In 2007, our newest building was birthed: with hotel-style lodging and large conference rooms.
Through these transformations, Franklinton Center at Bricks is able to offer educational opportunities and workshops on community leadership; rural, racial and social justice; spiritual growth and development; and community and family events.