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The William Penn Project explores the history of William Penn High School, which served African-American students in High Point, North Carolina from the 1890s through its closure in 1968.


The school was a pivotal institution for black communities in High Point, for it provided education for their young men and women and a gathering place for their organizations at a time when systemic racial discrimination made both endeavors extremely difficult. Many graduates went on to college, and even more established themselves as upstanding citizens in communities across the country.

The strength of William Penn’s community was exhibited through its students’ classroom and extracurricular successes, including their leadership of the nation’s first sit-in initiated by high schoolers.


Nearly half a century later, hundreds of William Penn alumni remain deeply loyal to the memory and living community of the school that exerted a powerful influence upon their development.



....there were quite a few guys that went out and started their own business and became very successful at it. Never went to college, just straight out of high school they went to work with somebody laying brick and just took it from there. But it all started right there at Penn.

Roger Wilson, Class of 1967


“I think it was an honor to attend William Penn...We were a close knit group and the experience at William Penn and growing up in the community was just like having a family reunion every single day.” 

Julius Clark, Class of 1968

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