HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Storer College was the first school to open their doors to freed black slaves in West Virginia. One-hundred-and-fifty years later, they are celebrating their sesquicentennial.
George Rutherford attended Storer College back in 1953 for a semester and remembers visiting the John Brown Fort.
“The John Brown Fort was on the campus here, and it was also like a sacred spot for people to go, because John Brown's Fort, it more or less represents freedom for the black community,” Rutherford said.
“It was a place that African Americans from the Shenandoah Valley could come, find a haven and have hope on the hill for education and learning. They had a safe place to be after the Civil War and segregation,” Autumn Cook, Public Information Park Ranger, National Park Service, said.
But after 88 years of providing education to people of all races, Storer College closed their classroom doors in 1955.
“After Brown vs. Board of Education, the school lost funding from the State of West Virginia and just couldn’t survive after that,” Cook said.
The school may have closed, but people are still honoring the school's legacy 150 years since its first day.
“If Storer College wasn’t here, who knows. Maybe [Nnamdi] Azikiwe would have never became the first President of Nigeria, and if wasn’t for the Storer College, Dawn Redman, and his music probably never taken off,” Rutherford said.
Music, alumni and noted special guest presenters and other events will be held all weekend in celebration.