Hillside High School alums celebrate school's centennial in Durham

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Proud Hillside High alumni, about 100 strong, sang the praises of their school on Saturday. They gathered at Hillside's latest address on Fayetteville Street in Durham for a legacy walk, the first in a series of activities commemorating 100 years of continuous operation in the Bull City.

"We will have a choir concert. Centennial Choir, they're doing a whole concert, out on the front area. Then on next Saturday it's the parade, we'll start at the old Hillside location, 1900 Concord," said Mina Forte.

The school's doors opened at the original location in 1922, when it was known as Hillside Park High School. It was located near one of the few public parks where Black people in Durham could go without breaking segregation laws that prevailed at the time.

"We did the groundbreaking for this location in 1994, which is the year that I graduated," Lashandra Scott said. "So, it just made more sense to celebrate the three different locations while we celebrate our class reunion."

Several famous people got their high school education at Hillside:

  • Durham mayor Elaine O'Neal
  • The late fashion influencer and former Vogue magazine editor Andre Leon Talley
  • Gospel music star and pastor Shirley Caesar
  • Artist and painter Ernie Barnes, whose "Sugar Shack" was just sold at auction for more than $15 million.


"Anywhere you go, if you say you're alumni of Hillside you get the instant respect. People know who you are," Forte said.

There's much more to see, hear and experience in the week ahead, as they continue celebrating the oldest of just 5 remaining historically Black high schools in North Carolina, sill educating today's students.
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