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African American Album 2 - Heritage - Schools
From 1917 to 1932, Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald donated millions of dollars to build schools for black children throughout the rural South. He gave half the money needed and required that the black and white community work to raise the other half. Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co., helped build more than 5,000 schools in 15 states. There were 813 of the schools in North Carolina. Twenty-six were in Mecklenburg County.
Torrence-Lytle School served the children and adolescents in the northern part of Mecklenburg County. It housed students from first grade to graduation. The building is now the site of the David Waymer Center, a recreational facility that is managed by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Sterling School began as Pineville Colored School and served students in southern Mecklenburg County. By 1958, the name had been changed to Sterling School. The school still operates today as Sterling Elementary School.
Plato Price School served children and adolescents in the western part of Mecklenburg County. It housed students from first grade to graduation. The school was closed as part of the school system’s integration plan, and the building was eventually torn down.
J. H. Gunn School served children and adolescents in the eastern part of Mecklenburg County. It housed students from first grade to graduation. Closed for a period, it was reopened as J. H. Gunn Elementary School.
York Road High School was completed in 1956, the last all-black school constructed. The school was never actually located on York Road, but it was given this name so that people could find it. It began as a junior high, but added grades until it became a senior high in 1959. In 1969, York Road High School became Robert F. Kennedy Jr. High as part of the city’s integration plan. In 1968, Kennedy Junior High moved to a new campus and the old York Road School building became part of the Maria G. Davis Middle School complex.
West Charlotte High School opened in 1938 at 1415 Beatties Ford Road, where Northwest Junior High is now located. When it opened, 389 students were enrolled. Fourteen faculty members taught under the leadership of Principal Clinton L. Blake. The school housed grades 7-12. By 1950, enrollment had rocketed to 1100. In 1954, West Charlotte moved to a new building at 2219 Senior Drive.
More photographs of West Charlotte
Second Ward High was established as Charlotte’s first black high school in 1923. It served grades 7-12. Teenagers from all over the county attended the school until West Charlotte High School was built in 1938. The school was closed in 1969 as part of the city’s integration plan. The building was torn down in the early 1970s.
Northwest Junior High was Charlotte’s first and only all-black junior high. Until it was started in 1954, grades 7-12 were considered high school. The school now occupies the old West Charlotte High School campus. It still operates today as Northwest School of the Arts, a 6-12 arts magnet school.