Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is recognizing the 155th anniversary of the founding of the historic Storer College this weekend.
The college opened in 1867 as one of the first schools in the nation to offer an education to formerly enslaved people. It operated until 1955. To recognize the anniversary, Harpers Ferry is holding a ceremony with the Storer College National Alumni Association.
“If you want to look at a place that tells the story from the Civil War to civil rights, it’s Storer College,” Harpers Ferry National Park representative Leah Taber said. “It was one of the first educational institutions open to formerly enslaved people after the Civil War, and certainly the first in West Virginia. So it occupies a huge place in civil rights history.”
Taber said the creation of Storer College represents education as a right for all people, regardless of race or gender.
“As we think about who we are as Americans, one of the things that we cherish as a nation is the right to education,” Taber said. “When we think about how fundamental a right education is, Storer College fits right into that.”
The ceremony is set for Oct. 2 at the campus’ Soldier’s Gate from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Storer College alumni and other notables are set to speak at the event, including:
- Storer College National Alumni Association president James Green, Jr.
- Tyrone Brandyburg, Superintendent, Harpers Ferry NHP.
- Cathy Baldau, Executive Director, Harpers Ferry Park Association.
- Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson-Learn, Superintendent, Jefferson County Schools.
- Greg Vaughn, Mayor, Corporation of Harpers Ferry.
- George Rutherford, President, Jefferson County NAACP.
- Lynn Pechuekonis, author of Man of Sterling Worth: Professor William A. Saunders of Storer College.
- Emma Dacol, producer/director of documentary Briscoe: Man of Science and Substance, about Storer professor Madison Briscoe.
Included in the ceremony is a ceremonial tolling of bells for Storer alumni who have passed away, with one of the alumni in attendance leading a candle lighting ceremony.
A program about Lockwood House, a former Civil War hospital and headquarters that became the center of the campus, is also scheduled for 3:45 p.m.