Siloam School: A Legacy of Resilience, a Future of Restoration

rafi vaca

By Rafi Vaca
Education Manager

Nestled in the heart of Mecklenburg County lies a piece of history deeply rooted in the fabric of Charlotte’s story – Siloam School. As we celebrate Black History Month and reflect on the enduring legacy of African American heritage, it’s essential to shine a light on the significance of Siloam School and the ongoing efforts to preserve its rich history.

Martha Barringer, now 98 years old, paints a vivid picture of her Siloam days. Her daughter, Maxine, recalls hearing stories of her mother walking in rain-soaked shoes, cardboard shielding her feet. Yet amidst hardships, Martha and her peers pursued knowledge with unwavering resolve, showcasing the community’s spirit of unity and resilience.

These anecdotes offer a glimpse into daily life at Siloam, where education intertwined with practical responsibilities, shaping a legacy of strength and belonging. Martha’s memories hold not just personal value, but also a vital chapter of Charlotte’s history, forever etched by Siloam’s impact on countless students.

Bridging Past and Present

To honor this incredible legacy, the Charlotte Museum of History has spearheaded the “Save Siloam School Project,” aiming to relocate, stabilize, and repurpose this historic marvel. 

Supported by the Rosenwald Fund, this initiative recognizes Siloam’s significance as a cultural and educational landmark. The school stands at the crossroads of heritage and community, offering a window into early 20th-century Black American life.

Black History Month compels us to acknowledge Siloam’s role in shaping Charlotte’s African American identity. Preserving such sites honors the sacrifices and achievements of those who came before us, fostering a more inclusive understanding of our shared past. 

siloam school in Charlotte

A close-up view of the historic Siloam School in Charlotte, NC
Photo Credit: Nicholas Oren Rawlings

Charlotte Earth Day to Shine a Spotlight on Siloam

Charlotte Earth Day 2024 presents an exciting opportunity to celebrate not just our environment, but also the interconnectedness of heritage preservation and environmental justice. As the venue for the event, the Charlotte Museum of History will serve as a platform for education, community engagement, and a celebration of Siloam School’s legacy. 

CleanAIRE NC’s advocacy for equitable environmental policies resonates deeply with the mission of preserving Siloam, highlighting the vital need to protect both our natural and cultural heritage.

Siloam School’s journey towards restoration reminds us of the power of community, resilience, and preservation. By honoring our past, we pave the way for a brighter future where heritage, environment, and equity intertwine to build a more inclusive and sustainable world. 

As we embark on this journey together, let Martha Barringer’s words, and the countless stories woven into Siloam’s fabric, guide us: “You gotta have that education… get what you can while you’re there.”


charlotte earth day logo