HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (WJZ) — In the early 1900s, there were fewer than 20 schools in Harford County that would educate Black children. A group of former students of the Havre de Grace Colored School is raising money to preserve the building so the history of the school can stand the test of time.

Some remarkable names of the civil rights era walked these floors, like poet and activist Langston Hughes, who used to frequent this school in Havre de Grace to speak to parents of the children who attended this school and read his poetry aloud.

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Up until 1965, Black children in Harford County could not attend school with white children. This building at 555 Alliance St. is where a young Thurl Snell got her education.

Now, she and others are dedicated to restoring the space so it can teach the leaders of tomorrow about the fighters of yesterday.

“We fought, everything was a fight,” said Nathalie Mullen James. “We didn’t know it then that we would become history.”

James was the youth chapter president for the NAACP in 1962.

“I can remember we marched. I can remember being face-to-face with the Klan,” she said. “I can remember we were trained to be peaceful, to walk, not let anything deter us.”

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Her story, and dozens of others, adorn these walls.

“It brings a personal component to their history, to their education, that is invaluable,” said Harford Community College professor James Karmel.

Karmel has partnered with the museum and cultural center, helping to get these stories of real people into the hands of future leaders.

The Harford Civil Rights Project is an interactive app, you can actually hear some of these stories from former students who grew up knowing this school as one of the only places they could get an education and other civil rights icons in the area during that time.

But the living history here needs to be restored, preserved and treasured for generations to come, which requires your help.

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The restoration of the Havre de Grace Colored School will take millions of dollars and years to complete. More information about donating is available here.

Rachael Cardin