New historical marker in town

by | September 6, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: September 4, 2019 at 8:32 am

State historical marker unveiled Saturday
at the Ray T. Johnson Center.

A crowd filled the auditorium at the Ray T. Johnson Center on Gruber Street Saturday for the unveiling of the center’s new S.C. historical marker.
The center originated in 1944 as the Gruber Street USO for black servicemen, necessary because of segregation. Built adjacent to the original Colleton Training School, it included an auditorium and dance floor. The USO hosted weekly dances, live music and games. After the war, the building was used by Colleton Training School.
Colleton Training School was opened in 1925 and served African American students in elementary and high school grades. In 1954 the school was renamed Colleton High and remained in use until 1970, when Colleton County schools were desegregated. During World War II, the school was the temporary home of the USO for black servicemen, including the Tuskegee Airmen, who were trained at Walterboro Army Airfield.
Participating in Saturday’s unveiling ceremony were Ray T. Johnson, a former teacher at Colleton Training School which was located at the center; Lula Smalls, Thelma Johnson, Celia S. Price, Willie Harvey, Clara Williams, Naomi Ford, Robert Ferette, Mary M. Jones, Dorothy Roundtree, Rev. Arthur Gilliard, Beulah Green, Harry Bright, Bernetha D. Williams, Frank Brown Jr., Charles E. Williams, Elreatha McDonald Smith and members of the Hiram E. Mann Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Participating in the program were Jacqueline Harvey-Brown, Apostle Kenneth White, James E. Simmons, the Colleton County High School NJROTC, Laura Lucas, City Councilman Paul Siegel, County Councilman Dr. Joseph Flowers, Rep. Curtis Inabinett, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Harold Mitchell of the Tuskegee Airmen, Dr. Eugene Richardson, Patricia C. Grant, Dr. Queenie L. Crawford, Apostle George D. Hamilton and Herman G. Bright.
The historical marker dedication committee of the CTS/CHS Alumni Association included Anderson Grant, Charles Davis, Herman G. Bright, Jacqueline Harvey-Brown, Patricia C. Grant, Paula Harvey Todd-Brown and Dr. Queenie Crawford.
Principals and teachers at Colleton Training School from 1925-1960 included principals P.J. Hammitt, Canute Richardson, E.M. Wiley, William T. Pleasant and Pearl Seawright Williams. Teachers were Rev. D.R. McTeer, Lucile Williams, Sarah Smith, Lillie Gadson, W.D. Dash, Ollie Mae Reddish, Virginia G. Beaton, Rosa T. Bryant, Mary L. Campbell, Thelma L. Davis, Abbie C. Franks, Nettie T. James, Thelma C. Johnson, Sylvia M. Middleton, Blanche J. Patterson, Helen S. Williams, Wilhelmina B. Young, Ruth S. Dove, Rosa M. Guildford, Bernetha Floyd, Gloria K. Gilmore, Margaret S. Hamilton, Mary M. Jones, Eleanor M. Miles, Naomi Overton, Celia E. Stanfield, Dorothy Lee Williams, Bernetha D. Williams, Mildred J. Yearby, Lula Stephens Smalls,
And Rodney G. Albert, John W. Bomar, Theo H. Blythewood, Ray T. Johnson, Robert A. Lewis, Sankey E. Maree, J.E. Williams, Ernest P. Wooten, Annette S. Albert, Ernestine Corbitt, Mary E. DeLarge, Mabel Graham, Owilender Kennedy, Wilsey M. Maree, Charlotte Holmes, Glynona Barbara Johnson, Bernice Rivers, Dorothy B. Stanley, Sallie McCants, Mary P. Wiley and Alberta Belton.

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