THE STORY OF OUR MAY QUEEN AND COURT
Vernon M. Herron
Ghetto is defined as a deprived quarter of a city in which members of a minority group are required to live, especially because of social, legal or economic pressure. I was born and reared in the Second Ward community of Charlotte, NC. Other Blacks lived in the First Ward, Third Ward, Cherry, Blue Heaven, Biddleville or the Greenville communities. A startling reality is that I did not know the community of my birth and childhood development was designated as a “ghetto.” I did know that our community consisted of doctors, lawyers, school teachers, administrators, tradesmen, mechanics, painters, designers, ministers, funeral directors, printers, business, food service, etc.
700 block of E Boundry Street
I also was imbued with a self-sustaining philosophy which said:
Hold your head uprightly
Stand straight and tall
Be clean; be somebody
Learn all you can; then no one can take it from you.
Be honest; learn to save; spend wisely
Trust God for all things
And that philosophy never ended.
The point I wish to make is that the “ghetto” in which I lived had “culture” which took many forms. We had accomplished musicians, singers, instrumentalists, athletes, dancers and even queens.
For example, in 1942 Second Ward High School nominated a “May Queen and Coat” which bring pleasant memories. The story is told by the queen herself, which defies “ghetto” if it means negativism.
Words by Margaret G. A. Alexander
As long as memory lives, I’ll always remember the privilege and honor of being the 1941 and 1942 Second Ward High School May Queen. Beyond my expectation, the film became a Documentary, “There Was a Colored School*”, in the year 2000. [*Visit http://www.unctv.org/acoloredschool/resources.html for more information].
I recall the 1941 May Queen election as a competitive contest and school fundraiser. An official ballot appeared in the school newspaper, “The Herald”. Students were encouraged to sell “The Herald” and use the ballot to support a contestant of their choice. A contestants name was written on the ballot and placed in a designated sealed box during the school day. At a specific time and place votes were counted.
The contestant with the highest number of votes became the “May Queen”. The next contestant with the second highest number of votes became the (Maid-of-Honor). The following six highest numbers of votes were Attendants.
The 1942 “May Queen and Court” were nominated by the student body, voted on and elected in one school day. They were: Margaret Alexander (May Queen), Jennie Richardson (Maid-of-Honor), Helen Phillips, Inez Miller, Annie Mae Ivey, Venus Smith, Bobbie Thompson and Ruby Coles. (See The Court on next page.)
Presently, I am blessed to be 84 years young (Born 9/20/1924). Unfortunately, I do not know the whereabouts of Jennie Richardson, Venus Smith, Bobbie Thompson or Ruby Coles. Helen Phillips and Inez Miller are deceased. Currently, Annie Mae Ivey resides in
. She’s well and looks great. Charlotte, NC
Throughout the years, I’ve frequently heard numerous positive comments regarding “There Was a Colored School”. It is indeed my privilege to be a 1942 graduate of
. There were many wonderful experiences at SWHS. The curriculum consisted of basic courses, as well as, a multiplicity of extracurricular classes and activities. Upon graduation, we were prepared academically for college or the workforce. Also, we learned something about social graces, esthetics, the community and the government. Second Ward High School
I matriculated at
for Negroes (Now NCCU, North Carolina College ) graduating Durham, NC June 3, 1946 with a B.S. in Commerce & a minor in Education. Married Kelly M. Alexander (April 21, 1946). He died April 2, 1985. We produced two sons: Kelly M., Jr. (Born 1948) & Alfred L. (Born 1952) /wife, Helen Anthony; three grandsons: Nathanael M., Kelly M., III & Desmond Phifer.
Humbly, I am sincerely appreciative and thankful for all the blessings bestowed upon me and mine. “Cherishing happy moments make a fine cushion for old age.”
May Queen Court
First Row: Annie Mae Ivey, Jennie Richardson (Maid-of-honor), Margaret Alexander (May Queen), and Helen Phillips.
Second Row: Venus Smith, Bobbie Thompson, Ruby Coles, and Inez Miller.