Second Ward High School was opened in 1923 in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the city’s first public high school for African Americans. During a time of segregation, the school provided respect and safety, and was considered the heart of the neighborhood. The school was subsequently closed in 1969, when the neighborhood was demolished during urban renewal.
The Second Ward High School Foundation was the result of a dream of three alumni – Dr. Mildred Baxter-Davis, Louis C. Coleman and Cecelia Jackson Wilson – born from the experience of witnessing their beloved school being destroyed. There was a clear understanding that the lost Brooklyn neighborhood, its homes, churches, the neighborhood and schools, had deep meaning to many and should be preserved and shared with future generations.
The Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation was created in an effort to preserve the school’s memory and legacy. In order achieve this goal, the Foundation focused on tracking down and preserving photos, trophies, yearbooks, newspapers and other memorabilia that told the history of the school and neighborhoods that once housed Second Ward High School’s former students.
The first annual Foundation meeting was held on September 1981, and not long after, the Foundation purchased a permanent location in on Beatties Ford Road. The house currently serves as a museum mainly utilized to store all the precious archives. The house is also utilized for meetings, research and community events.
The Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation functions as a non-profit and supports its work through the sale of products created in house, special fundraising efforts and a wide variety of project grants. The Foundation has also been presented with numerous donations and projects. By working with volunteers, they are able to create museum exhibits, books, interactive media, special events, on-camera interviews with Charlotte’s Black leaders and a documentary film. More specifically, the documentary, A Colored School, features remarkable film footage of a typical school day and the school’s surrounding Brooklyn neighborhood. This award-winning documentary features a day at the high school in 1941 and includes interviews with alumni and many of the students.
During the last 25 years, the Foundation has managed to amass an impressive collection of invaluable cultural memorabilia that the community will enjoy for years to come. The Foundation has also been included in the City of Charlotte’s planning process to help create a new community where Second Ward once stood.
For more information about the Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation, visit www.secondwardfoundation.org.