1927 Second Ward.jpg

1920 - 1945

FIRST QUARTER: WE ARE HERE

PUBLIC SCHOOLS GROW FOR BLACKS IN CHARLOTTE

1918 Myers Street school.jpg

6th-grade students at Myers Street School in 1918, the first public school for Black children in Charlotte, NC. 

TRY TO IMAGINE...

A time when education was the dream for many Black children. Education was a luxury in the eyes of Black families. It represented the key to opportunity and a better life.

 

A time when education was not available for every Black child. If a Black child had the chance to go to school, they were special because going to school was special.

A time when many White people believed that Black children did not need an education. A time when many White people believed that the community should not invest in education for Blacks. 

A time when the Black community fought for schools.

 

A time when the Black community fought for the education of Black children.

...Just Imagine

1920's - Uptown

1920's - Uptown

Photo Credit: Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

Mill Houses

Mill Houses

Photo Credit: Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

1920's- E Trade St

1920's- E Trade St

Photo Credit: Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

A LOOK AT CHARLOTTE 

A HISTORICAL LOOK AT CHARLOTTE

 

In this clip, Tom Hanchett, a Charlotte historian highlights the historical sites throughout Charlotte in the Black community at the beginning of the 20th Century. Learn about where these historical sites are located, and if they are still standing today.

This video is great for understanding the culture in the Black community of Charlotte, and its connection to education for children.

 

THINGS TO KNOW...

Rosenwald School.jpg

BLACK SCHOOLS GROW

After Slavery Ended in 1865...

Black families were eager to educate their children. They believed education would create social mobility. Black churches immediately began creating schools. Education was spearheaded and led by the black community. They raised money to build their own schools and created their own curriculums. The first free public school for Black children paid for by tax dollars was Myers Street School in 1882. 

1925 MorganSchool.png

SEPERATE BUT NOT EQUAL

Beginning in the 1920s...

There were no junior (middle) or high schools that existed in Charlotte. Most Black children were only taught what was known then as the 3 R's (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and received just six grades of education compared to twelve grades for White children. Black schools did not have the same resources as White schools. Funding was decided by politicians and city leaders who were White at the time.

Second%20Ward%20Opened%201923_edited.png

BLACK HIGH SCHOOLS START

1920s and 1930s

In 1923, Second Ward High School, the first High School for African American students in Charlotte, NC was opened. Second Ward High School was located in the all-Black Brooklyn neighborhood which was eventually torn down by the city in the 60s.​ In 1938, West Charlotte opened as the 2nd all Black High School with 389 students. Second Ward and West Charlotte High School become rivals in sports which brought the Black community together through competition and comradery. 

FIRST QUARTER: VIDEO ONE

 

In this clip, Pamela Grundy highlights the condition of education for Blacks at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

Pamela Grundy is a Charlotte historian and author of the book Color and Character which details the history of West Charlotte High School. Pamela provided four historical workshops to all youth involved in the Education of Blacks in Charlotte project.

 

Check out more articles written by Pamela Grundy on Charlotte's History with the Queen City Nerve.

CAPTURED MEMORIES

 
 

BLACK SCHOOLS ESTABLISHED

If you were a Black child in Charlotte during this era (1920 -1945), you would have attended one of the schools below for ALL BLACK CHILDREN

Junior High Schools

No Junior High Schools (Middle Schools) were established before the 1950s. Many of the schools listed as elementary schools served students from Kindergarten to graduation.

FIRST QUARTER: VIDEO TWO

In this clip, Pamela Grundy highlights the challenges that Blacks experienced to get primary, secondary, and higher-level education at the beginning of the 20th century.

Pamela Grundy is a Charlotte historian and author of the book Color and Character which details the history of West Charlotte High School. Pamela provided four historical workshops to all youth involved in the Education of Blacks in Charlotte project.

Check out more articles written by Pamela Grundy on Charlotte's History with the Queen City Nerve.

 

SCHOOL LIFE

"Our teachers stretched our imagination,

protected us in our uncertain world,

and set us out on a course to achieve great things.

 

The teachers were no non-sense, and entertained no excuses for children not learning."

-Thereasea Delerine "T.D" Elder

(September 2, 1927 – January 5, 2021)

Quote from the book T.D.'s TRUTHS

SWHS-01.jpg

PICTURED ABOVE (LEFT):

Teachers at Fairview Elementary School in 1926.

 

PICTURED ABOVE (RIGHT):

A high school diploma in the 1940s from Second Ward High School. Notice how "colored" is emphasized on the diploma.

SCHOOL SPIRIT

SPORTS & RIVALS

1940 Second Ward sports.jpg

PICTURED LEFT:

1940 Second Ward Cheerleaders and Basketball Team

PICTURED BELOW:

1938 West Charlotte Football Team

1938 West Charlotte Football.jpg

MAIN RIVAL: SECOND WARD HS AND WEST CHARLOTTE HS

 

IN THE NEWS

May 19, 1924 | Charlotte Observer

First Commencement of 2nd Ward High Held

The Charlotte Observer spotlights graduates and details of the ceremony from the first graduating class of 2nd Ward High School.

January 28, 1933 | Charlotte Observer

New Negro School Building Dedicated

The Charlotte Observer discusses the new construction of the Myers Street School and community celebration in the 2nd Ward community.

April 16, 1936 | Charlotte Observer

City School Building Program

This article in the Charlotte Observer discusses the overcrowding of Black schools and the need for a 2nd high school which would eventually become West Charlotte High School.

 

INTERVIEWS

 

Jennie Mason Interview

Former student and educator in Charlotte, NC, Jennie Mason, discusses her experience attending school during segregation with Mallard Creek High School students, Zionna Lilly and Asia Nash.

 

YOUTH CONTRIBUTIONS

Artwork by Aidan Lynch, Mallard Creek HS (2020)

STUDENT ARTIST AIDAN LYNCH REFLECTS ON UNITY BETWEEN BLACK SCHOOLS

Aidan (Mallard Creek High School) provides insight on the inspiration for his art contribution to this era and reflects on what he learned from his experience in the Education of Blacks in Charlotte project.

POEM: PROGRESS

Dedicated to the students and influencers of the era (1920 - 1945)

 

Some progress we’ve made 

From separate water fountains,

From constantly being afraid

We have climbed several mountains,

Just to see there are many more...

 

We know this won’t be easy 

To finally get treated as equals, 

Compare life then to now and see 

That this story will have many sequels,

But -- there will be progress, we're sure.

Poem by Zionna Lilly, Mallard Creek HS (2020)

School Bus
IMG_0786.PNG

Jamauri Young, 15

Once I applied myself to this project I learned about my own family history as well. I found out that my great grandmother went to Plato Price School and my great-great aunt as well. It was very cool to learn that a lot of my family went to schools where I researched. Unfortunately, I could not find their yearbook like I wish I could. Thank you guys for having me in this club and accepting me. Thank you Mr. Gist for looking into me from the class-- because anyone could have got this opportunity. Thank you.

Selfie_edited.jpg

Aidan Lynch, 15

I wish we could bring that same feeling of unity from this era to where we are today. I feel like that could help us in many ways in our current situation if we could come together and feel that unity nowadays that was shown back then.

Asia%20Nash_edited.jpg

Asia Nash, 17

I am not originally from Charlotte, and I haven’t even lived here for a year yet. So doing all of this research on this city was fascinating and new to me. From the pictures and learning that some of the schools from back in the day still exist such as West Charlotte is so cool. It was such an honor to be a part of this experience. I enjoyed everything down to the interviews, the research, and working with my peers. It was just really fun all around. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this experience. 

GetAttach1_edited.jpg

Zionna Lilly, 16

This project was the perfect opportunity to learn the history of Charlotte. We were able to acquire
a better understanding of how Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools went from segregated to desegregated. We were also able to speak to a few individuals who lived during the times where schools were segregated and they told us what it was like for them to go from
segregated schools to desegregated schools and we were able to understand their experiences. While researching, we were able to get some visualizations of the kids and schools from the 1900s and we were also able to read news articles from the 1900’s. 

MALLARD CREEK HIGH SCHOOL

YOUTH CURATORS & ARCHIVISTS (ERA 1920 - 1945)