Born enslaved in neighboring western Prince William County in 1852, Jane “Jennie” Serepta Dean founded the Manassas Industrial School in 1893. The site is just west of downtown Manassas, and though no school buildings remain, it is now a memorial to Ms. Dean and her work. This four-acre property includes a life-size bronze statue of Jennie Dean standing with an outstretched hand as an inviting gesture to lift up others.
Ms. Dean's legacy began with a dream to build an academic and industrial school where African American students could learn the usual academic subjects as well as develop specific trade skills. Starting as a private residential institution, the school evolved into a regional public school for African Americans; it was the only secondary school serving African Americans in Northern Virginia. Ultimately, it became an integrated public school.