GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – More than 200 alumni are expected in Greenville July 4th weekend to celebrate a school that’s no longer around.
Friday night kicks off the annual C.M. Eppes -Greenville Industrial High School reunion weekend. As the years pass, each year becomes just as important.
For Geraldine Duncan, a member of the class of 1963, nothing was stopping her from returning to her home town of Greenville to celebrate the multi-class reunion. She recalls memories of 5th grade just like it was yesterday, she traveled all the way from Maryland to attend the events. “Getting older, sometimes you think about I might not be here, but I thank god that I’m still here and I’m able to engage with friends and family.”
Prior to desegregation, educators at Greenville industrial High School taught generations of Greenville’s black residents. “So many of our people are deceased, this is a school that opened in 1903 and was burned in 1969, the last graduating class out of here was 1969,” said James Harper, Jr. a member of the class of 1967.
The building for tonight’s event, the Eppes Recreation Center on Nash Street, is all that’s left of the structure; it used to be the school’s gym. For organizers, holding these annual events help to maintain a tradition that’s rich in history. Harper explains, “This is our legacy. There was a school here at the corner of 5th and Nash that educated a number, well everyone in Greenville that was an Afro American. It was the only school that we had up until 1966 when we had opening of choice and a number of our juniors elected to go to J.H. Rose”
As long as Harper is alive, he’ll make sure the reunions continue to take place. He said, “We continue our legacy, we relive some of the things we went through as well as tell the stories to those who come after us.”