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A historic Black school moved to its permanent home at the Charlotte Museum of History

Grant Baldwin
Navarro Communications

After nearly a decade of planning and fundraising, The Save Siloam School Project achieved another milestone on Friday: While most people in Charlotte slept, the historic Sialom School was loaded on a truck to make the slow move to its permanent location at the Charlotte Museum of History.

The historic school was part of the Rosenwald Fund. Led by Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald in the 1900s, the group worked to create schools in communities across the country for Black students. The Siloam School that originally sat in the University City area is one of the few that are still standing.

The Siloam School has gone through a full life cycle as a building, from its beginnings as a key player in education in segregated Charlotte to a family-run auto shop to an abandoned building behind a modern apartment complex.

Now, the process of restoring the building will give the school building a new life and provide an educational tool for Charlotte. When the school arrived at its new location, Charlotte Museum development director Lauren Wallace told WFAE it was a surreal moment.

“It was really amazing honestly and truly, there really isn't another word for it to see it sitting in that parking lot to see it on that truck and see it actually moved here to this space,” Wallace said.

“And getting to see it kind of in its new home is just this incredible feeling for everyone who's been involved in this project. I was really fortunate to get to be here this morning and get to see the faces of the people that have worked so hard to make this happen,” she said.

Grant Baldwin
Navarro Communications

The museum’s acquisition and move of the Siloam School comes at a fraught moment in education about Black history in the U.S., when schools face book bans and backlash over “wokeness” and teaching about racism.

The new Parents Bill of Rights created a process to give parents the ability to challenge what school textbooks students can learn from. Wallace said the museum plans to have a program to help continue education using books that have been banned.

“We’re actually doing a program coming up with the library,” Wallace said. “It's a banned book story time. And so the first one is actually coming up this September,” she said. The museum will look at “those banned books, books that we're seeing pop up on those lists and the stories that they tell and the history that they help us explore.

”The next big task for the organization will be the restoration process for the Siloam School. This will determine when the exhibit will be open to the public. The truth is it's gonna depend on exactly how long it takes to restore the school,” Wallace said. “Obviously, we're getting started on it and working as quickly as we can, but it needs to be done.

“We want this to be a really great picture of what the school looked like in 1924. And sometimes that takes time, we're gonna have to work with very specific materials because the goal is to preserve as much as we can of the original,” she said.

Wallace said the museum hopes to have everything up and running by next year.

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.