The East’s Hidden History: Snow Hill Colored School

SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – When Snow Hill Colored School alumni Jonelle Davis and Michelle Giles reminisce, they talk about the good times:

“This was the place,” said Davis.

And the bad:

“The day that JFK was assassinated I was afraid to come to school because I was thinking that whoever assassinated him, there was going to be someone to assassinate us,” Davis said.

No matter the subject, Davis and Giles always find a way to talk about the place. During segregation, the Snow Hill Colored School, also known as the Rosenwald Buidling,  was the only high school for blacks in Greene County.

“Whenever there was anything out here at night, regardless of what it was, people were here,” Davis said.

“True,” said Giles.

It’s where they grew up.

“The Caucasians people had schools everywhere,” said Giles. “We had Greene County Training School.”

No matter what name it went by, the Greene County Training School, the Rosenwald Building or Snow Hill Colored School, it was the only high school blacks in Greene County could attend.

It was “called separate but equal — from the conditions that we were in — it was just separate,” said Giles.

Despite inadequate materials and a small space, those who went there said it is history.

“This history shows us how we were segregated — how we fought to get integration,” said Giles.

Snow Hill Colored School is recognized on the National Historical Registry, yet right now the building is condemned, abandoned and left alone. The school’s alumni group is fighting to preserve the building.

“This deserves to be more than a marker,” said Davis.

A marker or plaque is the only requirement historical sites have to meet, but for alumni of the school, that’s not enough.

Davis heads up the campaign’s efforts to save the school.

“We want it to become a center — a center for computers, a center for learning,” Davis said.

While the group works to raise money, they’ll continue to spread the word as well.

“There is no other school,” said Giles. “Tiger pride, tiger pride, tiger pride.”

The land where Snow Hill Colored School sits is now a part of Lenoir Community College’s Workforce Development Center.

The alumni group wants to work with the college to see if they’ll help with efforts to restore the school.

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