Each year, alumni and friends of the Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation gather for the Annual Meeting and Reunion, three days of remembering and celebration. In 2010, we marked the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation. Please visit the Second Ward Foundation photostream to see the alumni sharing in their respective celebrations.
A special part of that anniversary began with a marker ceremony and continued in the old Second Ward gym with a program demonstrating the Foundation’s work to preserve and share this community’s African-American history and heritage.
The Second Ward Foundation Through Your Lens
Alumni and friends have shared their photos of the special celebration and reunion events. Thanks to alumni and to Leon Gill, class of 1965, for sharing your photos.
Second Ward High School was opened in 1923 in Charlotte, North Carolina as the city's first high school for African American children. Closed in 1969 the school and surrounding neighborhood were bulldozed during urban renewal. Since 1980, the Foundation has continued the school's mission of education and community involvement.
Videos featuring stories about alumni and the Second Ward neighborhood are on reporter Neima Abdulahi's on-line site. Her Brooklyn story won a first place from the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas for general news.
A 1964 graduate, Phyllis Baxter celebrates during a Marker Ceremony. Her Class celebrated its Golden Anniversary during this past Reunion over the Labor Day Weekend. Part of the Foundation's Annual Meeting and Reunion is the Marker Ceremony. Alumni and friends can view photos from past reunions and history exhibits on Flickr. See our 2015 Marker video created by Dot Wise.
A special event after the Marker Ceremony announced our newest archive project: preparing a future exhibit on the school to be housed in the historic Second Ward gym.
Built in 1949, the Gym was declared a historic property for its meaning to the Second Ward school and neighborhood. Its stunning architecture is an early example of modern design in the city and created by the same architect who would design the original Charlotte Coliseum in the early 1950s.
Interior of the 1949 Second Ward Gym.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission has a description of the Second Ward Gym and A.G. Odell, Jr. who created it in his trademark Modernist style.
Our other partner in this project is the Director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, James Garges, and Division Director James Alsop. The concept of a gym exhibit originated with Second Ward alumnus Arthur Griffin and Norman Mitchell, Sr. of the Park & Rec Commission.
Director Garges made it possible to bring a UNCC Public History Graduate student on to the project. Allyson Miller has worked through the summer with alumni at the House/Museum to catalogue our archival materials in preparation for a future exhibit in the gym.
Our Park & Recreation Department partners have an understanding that the "lost" Brooklyn neighborhood - its homes, churches, the neighborhood and our schools - have deep meaning to many of us. These are the stories we want to remember and to share with future generations.
Second Ward art for the CityLYNX Gold Line
Second Ward alumnus Michael Pate and other alumni worked with New Orleans Artist Nancy O'Neil to collect photos and documents from the Second Ward neighborhood.
This art is at the McDowell Street stop, one of the twelve bright, transparent windscreens at the CityLYNX Gold Line Stop locations on the streetcar system.
For more information about the project and to see information on each piece used, visit the website at this link.
Since the organization of the Foundation in 1980, one of our missions has been to be a resource to the community to our partners and to individuals looking to find people, stories, images and information.
We have developed our collections from numerous donations and projects. But we are more than an archive. Working with colleagues and volunteers from the Foundation, we have created museum exhibits, books, interactive media, a documentary film, special events and on-camera interviews with Charlotte black leaders. See some of our history products on this Media page.
For several decades we have served as a resource to conserve and preserve the images of our community. Our mission grew out of the educational endeavors of the teachers at Second Ward – to document and educate all citizens.
The documentary, A Colored School, features remarkable 1941 film footage from a day at the school and surrounding neighborhood. View stories about the film at UNC-TV.
The May Queen, Margaret Alexander, pictured above and is one of the students shown in 1941 and on-camera today.
The Second Ward Foundation's traveling exhibit is available for events
We are a volunteer organization and our many projects have been made possible through the work of our volunteers, contributions from alumni and friends and from grants and awards from the following:
The Arts & Science Council of Charlotte has awarded operating and special project grants; The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has helped us document and preserve important histories; and The Good Samaritan Fund of the Episcopal Church has supported our work on the James Peeler photo archive.
When first opened, African American students from across the city came to Second Ward, the only all-black high school. Our Second Ward logo represents those original neighborhoods.
We are an all volunteer organization and do not have regular museum hours. But please call us at 704.398.9333 to arrange a visit.
All rights reserved. Second Ward High School National Alumni Foundation, Inc.
The Foundation is an associate member of the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.