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Bridging the Gap: The Havre De Grace Colored School

Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 19, 2019

HAVRE DE GRACE, MD — In the early 1900s, there was a small community in Harford County where people of all races got along, but schools where still required to be segregated.

As time went on and laws changed, schools that were once only open to white students became inclusive, leaving the history of the colored schools to fall by the wayside.

The Havre de Grace Colored School community came together to make sure that their piece of history was not lost. Led by Patricia Cole, a group of former students began a campaign that would ultimately bridge a gap in history.

The Havre de Grace Colored School was built in 1910 and was the first grammar school for African American children. During that time, students could only receive an eighth grade education.

"Children had to leave their parents," said Thurl Cromwell Snell, a member of the 1960 class. "If they had money, they would send their children maybe to live with relatives and even as far away as Philadelphia or to Baltimore so the children could get a high school education."

By 1930, a PTA led by Clayton Stansbury fought to give black students in Havre de Grace a high school education. By 1950, a 12th grade class was added, along with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and go on to college.

After the students were moved to the consolidated schools and later the integrated schools, the Havre de Grace Colored School was sold and turned into a doctor's office. Decades later, the Hersh family put the property up for sale, again.

"We came together as a team and said we have to do something to save this school." said Cole. While Cole, the foundation's president, didn't attend the Havre de Grace Colored School, her father did. Preserving the history became a passion project for her. In about two months time, the community came together and raised the $153,000 needed to purchase the property.

The members of the foundation are working now to turn the school into a museum and cultural center. If you would like to visit the Havre de Grace Colored School or donate to their efforts, click here.