Built in 1963 for W. Howard Moreland and his wife Gladys F. Moreland. “Both my parents were teachers with masters degrees from Columbia University,” daughter Alma Moreland Motley remembers proudly.
Howard Moreland ranked among Charlotte’s most respected educators, a civics instructor at Second Ward High who was named founding principal at new Marie G. Davis Elementary school when it opened about 1951. He was also one of the city’s most active civic leaders. Moreland played a key role in starting what is now the McCrorey YMCA, initiated the annual Queen City Classic high school football showdown, and worked with the Negro Citizens League as it began its successful campaign for the hiring of Charlotte’s initial black policemen.
Gladys Ford Moreland (Columbia class of 1947) taught at Isabella Wyche School in Charlotte’s Third Ward (site of today’s Panthers football stadium).
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The Moreland family’s leadership pedigree dated back to Howard’s grandfather, Rev. John F. Moreland, Sr., a nationally renowned figure in the AME Zion denomination. “Dr. Moreland was one the most prominent colored preachers in his Church and had occupied some its largest pastorates, among them those in Birmingham, St. Louis and Chicago,” wrote the Charlotte Observerwhen he died in 1913. A native of Cincinnati who earned his doctorate at what is now Ohio State University, he had come to Charlotte near the end of his career to manage the AME Zion Publishing House. Upon his death he left four small children, among them Rev. John F. Moreland, Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps to become an AME Zion minister. The younger Moreland, in turn, also had four offspring — three of whom became prominent Charlotteans and built homes in McCrorey Heights: W. Howard Moreland, George W.C. Moreland, and Clarence E. Moreland.
William Howard Moreland was born and raised in Charlotte.He attended the Myers Street School in his elementary years, then for high school as well as college he went to Salisbury, NC, to Livingstone College, the top educational institution of the AME Zion denomination, graduating in 1928.He became a lifelong member of Grace AME Zion Church on Brevard Street, but he used the gifts of public speaking and community engagement not as a minister like his father and grandfather but in a wider civic arena.
Howard Moreland first appeared in the pages of the Charlotte Observer in 1930, soon after he returned from college to take up residence in Charlotte. “More than 3,500 persons attended the concert of spirituals and special music program last night in the open-air theater in Independence Park, given by more than 100 trained voices from the three negro playgrounds, Morgan, Biddleville and Second Ward,” enthused the Observer. “Each playground presented a separate program of music,” with Howard Moreland in charge of the young singers from the Cherry neighborhood’s Morgan Park.The brief story contained themes that would define Moreland’s contributions to Charlotte over the next four decades: harnessing many volunteers in a civic project; working with youth; finding ways to showcase African American achievement to the wider community; and showing a genius for garnering newspaper coverage in an era when African Americans received little attention from the media.
Moreland’s name next showed up in the Observer as a leader in Charlotte’s Negro Citizens League during the early 1930s. The activist organization had been founded in 1917 by Henry Houston, publisher of the city’s black weekly newspaper, The Charlotte Post.Ever since the passage of North Carolina’s Disfranchisement Constitution in 1900, African Americans had no direct representation in government. So the Citizens League sought to be a unified black voice, lobbying white leaders. During its quarter century in existence, it mobilized African American citizens to demand better schools and other governmental services.
Moreland served as secretary of the League from about 1932 to 1934. His name usually appeared alongside League president Henry Houston in Observercoverage, indicating that he played a leading role in shaping the group’s strategy.In 1933 he wrote a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observerthanking it for calling for a fair trial for the “Scottsboro Boys,” a high-profile case in which African American youths were unfairly accused of rape in Alabama.Later that year, Moreland helped as the League brought the national head of the NAACP, Walter White, down from New York City to speak in Charlotte.
White’s visit marked the start of an effort to re-establish a branch of the NAACP in Charlotte. There had been a short-lived NAACP chapter in the Queen City soon after the national organization started in the 1910s, but it had fizzled out. Moreland’s relaunch, in partnership with the Negro Citizens League, included a 1934 event featuring Professor Charles Hamilton Houston from Howard University, known for training Civil Rights lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall. Moreland presided at the lecture, identified in the Observeras “president of the Charlotte branch of the NAACP.”He continued to lead the NAAACP effort for about five years until it again went out of business. The NAACP’s Charlotte chapter ultimately would gain traction in the 1940s under leadership of Kelly Alexander.
During his time as Secretary with the Citizens League, Moreland helped it initiate a long effort to convince the City to hire African American police. “A delegation from the Negro Citizens League appeared before the city council yesterday requesting better police protection in the negro business district and school zones as well as employment of a truant officer to handle delinquent school children,” reported the Observerin 1934. Mrs. H.L. McCrorey spoke, and Moreland and Houston crafted a petition on behalf of the League’s “membership of over 500 negro men and women.”The campaign would finally succeed with the hiring of Charlotte’s first two black police officers in 1941.
Howard Moreland next set his sights on launching Charlotte’s first black YMCA, today the McCrorey YMCA. He stepped down as League secretary about 1935 but that did nothing to hamper his influence as a community leader. In October of 1936 he convened and chaired the first public meeting aimed at launching a black YMCA in the city.Fundraising kicked off on February 1, 1937 with a rally at Friendship Baptist Church, including “Howard Moreland, chairman of the general committee of 12 formed to organize the branch.”Even before a permanent home was secured, the “Negro branch” was up and running, sponsoring boys clubs and hosting a Negro History week observance at Grace AME Zion Church that same February.In the late 1940s the organization would build its own facility on South Caldwell Street in Second Ward and take the name McCrorey YMCA. Relocated to Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte in the 1970s, it remains one of the city’s strongest African American community institutions.
The YMCA campaign came about in part because of Howard Moreland’s love of basketball – a sport that had originated at a Massachusetts YMCA in the 1890s.Moreland played during his student days at Livingstone College and he seldom missed a chance to play or coach as an adult. In 1933 the Observernoted that Second Ward High would open its basketball season with an exhibition game against the “’Big Five,’ an independent negro quintet composed of former high school and college players.” Volunteer coach W.H. Moreland, the paper reported, “has been whipping his outfit into shape for the contest.”In 1951, two decades out of college, Moreland put together a Livingstone all-star reunion team for a local fund-raiser at the Second Ward High Gym and suited up with them to play a similar team from JCSU which included Jack Brayboy and Kenny Powell – both then coaching JCSU athletics and soon to be Moreland’s neighbors in McCrorey Heights.Over the years, Moreland helped organize a range of athletic support groups, including the Piedmont High School Athletic Association (1937), which united black schools across the central Carolinas, and the Southern Board of Officials (1940s), which provided referees for CIAA sporting events.
Surprisingly, Moreland seems not to have coached sports during his years as a teacher at Second Ward High. Instead he taught civics, a class called American Democracy. He organized an annual school-wide Constitution Day with patriotic musical selections by the student ensembles and speeches from guests such as JCSU’s professor of political science.He worked hard to instill in his pupils both a love of country and also an understanding of the workings of society. Every Second Ward student had to memorize all four stanzas of the “Star Spangled Banner.” They also “read and re-read” the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, exploring “the ideals that will light our path” toward a world in which African Americans might enjoy “a chance to live and actually participate in co-operative efforts by, of and for … a democratic society.”
Moreland pushed his city to live up to the American ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal.” In 1942, as president of the Charlotte Negro Teachers Association, he sent a long letter to the Observerabout the lack of restroom facilities for black customers in downtown Charlotte. “We have always thought that the least that could be done for us would be to provide similar accommodations. Especially we would expect it from stores that receive from our race thousands of dollars during a year.” Recently, the Kress drugstore had opened restrooms and water fountains for African Americans – the only ones in the center city. Moreland praised that change. But he went on, “It is hard as teachers to instill in our youngers certain democratic principles when they are constantly faced with signs that read ‘For White Only.’”
When World War II hit, Moreland put his patriotism to practical use. He helped lead a city-wide scrap drive in 1943, rounding up metal to be recycled for military manufacturing.In 1945 he was named head of the Beatties Ford Road unit of the Ration Board which oversaw the provision of scarce supplies such as gasoline and tires.He continued in the same vein beyond the War’s end. A 1949 photo showed him with two other teachers proudly in military uniform “fresh from a Reserve Officers Training Course” (ROTC).
After the war, Howard Moreland harnessed his love of sports and his skill at civic organizing to raise funds to construct athletic fields at West Charlotte High School – and in the process launched one of the city’s most enduring sporting events, the Queen City Classic. West Charlotte High School was ten years old in 1947 but still lacked adequate athletic facilities. So Howard Moreland stepped forward.He and allies approached School Superintendent Elmer Garinger and then the City Council, but no funds were forthcoming. Officials graciously offered “endorsement and moral support” if Moreland and others wished to raise funds on their own.
The ongoing rivalry between the city’s two black high schools, Second Ward and West Charlotte, provided the perfect fund-raising opportunity. With Superintendent Garinger’s help, the city’s huge Memorial Stadium in Independence Park was secured for a football game aimed at attracting not only African Americans but also white sports fans as well. “Employers in Charlotte have received from Howard Moreland letters urging them to allow their employees a half-holiday Thursday to enable them to attend the game,” reported the Observer. “Mr. Moreland, publicity director for the game, also urged employers to furnish employees with complimentary tickets.”As publicity chief, Moreland may have coined the name for the contest: the Queen City Classic.The West Charlotte Lions won the bout on November 6, 1947, shutting out the Second Ward Tigers 13 – 0.
The event was so successful that it was repeated the following November. By the third game in 1949 it was clear that this would be an annual contest. For two decades the Queen City Classic would be perhaps Charlotte’s most anticipated sporting event, a “huge homecoming” celebration for African Americans.Spectators flooded the center city and filled the seats at Memorial Stadium each fall.
Before enough cash could be banked to begin construction of the long-sought athletic facility, however, the city’s School Board announced plans to build an entirely new state-of-the-art campus for West Charlotte High School at a site further out Beatties Ford Road. It would need a new stadium, estimated at $40,000. But the white School Board was only willing to put up $20,000. Moreland continued the Queen City Classic games and also devised an additional strategy. He appointed ten fund-raising Generals who each worked with ten Colonels who in turn each tapped ten Captains. “Reports indicate that nearly $10,000 will be realized before contributions to the campaign stop coming in,” marveled the Carolina Times of Durham.Many of Moreland’s “troops,” not surprisingly, were current or future McCrorey Heights residents including Dr. Emery Rann, Romeo Alexander, Gwendolyn Cunningham, Elizabeth Randolph and Carson Beckwith. The stadium opened for play in 1954.
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Thanks in large part to his tireless community work, Howard Moreland moved into the top tier of African American school leadership. He was named assistant principal at Second Ward High at the end of the 1940s. Then in 1951 Marie G. Davis Elementary opened off of South Tryon Street – part of the same bond package that constructed the new West Charlotte High. The city appointed Howard Moreland to be its founding principal. In an era when African Americans seldom ran any public agency nor any corporate office, to be a school principal was to be one of Charlotte’s most important black executives.
Despite his prominence, Principal Moreland led Marie G. Davis Elementary with his characteristic affable demeanor. “Indefatigable,” “ever smiling,” “glib” and “always cheerful,” an Observerreporter described him.
He could be flexible when needed, remembered community member James Ross. At that time before construction of Interstate 77, Marie G. Davis and its companion York Road High backed up to Revolution Park, site of the Bonnie Brae golf links. The course was segregated and would eventually become the target of a successful integration lawsuit. But while black players were barred before 1957, black caddies were welcome — one of segregation’s many ironies. Principal Moreland found that his students were sneaking off from school to earn money caddying. So “he went up and talked with the … head pro at the golf course,” recalled Ross, himself an avid golfer.
“[Principal Moreland] said, ‘Look, some of these kids need the money, and I know that, but they also need to be in school. So here’s what we want to do. We’re going to start what is called the Caddies Club…. If you need some caddies, call me and tell me how many caddies you need and I’ll send you some….’ And they had to take 25 cents out of whatever money they made and put it in the Caddies Club back at the school.”
Moreland also told the pro, “‘If a kid shows up here at the golf course without my permission, I want you to call me….’ And so those guys would go up and caddy and come back to school, and that way if some kid would play hooky from school and show up at the golf course, Mr. Moreland would come pick you, pick them up. So it was one of those real common sense kinds of things that, that worked.”
Even with the time-demands of his job as Principal, Moreland continued his civic involvement. In 1962 he became the first African American to be elected to the executive committee of the local Republican Party.Many leading old-line African American families were Republicans in that era, a legacy of the organization’s early history as the party of Abraham Lincoln. Also in the early 1960s Principal Moreland served on the Charlotte executive committee of Mechanics & Farmers Bank. The committee worked with the Durham-based bank, one of the nation’s largest black financial institutions, to open a major branch office on Beatties Ford Road in 1962.
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Gladys Ford Moreland married Howard about 1928. She had grown up in Alexandria, Virginia.When she was not teaching, Gladys (? – 12. 21. 2008) maintained an active social calendar. She enjoyed membership in the elite women’s club The Links, as well as the Charlotte chapter of a Norfolk-based African American women’s group called The Moles.The Morelands were also active in the city’s debutant scene, the series of upscale social events that “presented” teen girls to “society.” In 1955 they were among the honorary chaperons at a “Moonlight and Roses” Sub-Deb dance, with music provided by Ray “Flat Tire” Mason and his orchestra.
Gladys and Howard Moreland finally moved to McCrorey Heights at the zenith of Howard’s career. The family lived for many years on Celia Street, an avenue of older bungalows in Washington Heights off Beatties Ford Road, but in May of 1963 they took out a building permit to construct a large, modernistic Ranch-style residence at 1722 Madison Avenue in McCrorey Heights. It was just a couple of blocks from Howard’s brothers. Clarence E. Moreland — also a school principal — had built at 1617 Patton Avenue in 1956. George W. C. Moreland would build at 1801 Patton Avenue in 1966.
Howard and Gladys’s daughter Alma resided nearby at 1726 Madison Avenue (built 1954). Her husband Rowe R. “Jack” Motley would win election as Mecklenburg’s first African American County Commissioner in 1974 — a step forward in that American Democracy that Howard Moreland had taught long before.
Audrey Thomas McCluskey, A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and Activists in the Jim Crow South(Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), pp. 79 – 80.
Moreland, Clarence, Funeral program in the Digital Smith Collection, Inez Moore Park Archives, Duke Library, Johnson C. Smith University. Moreland, George W. C., Funeral program in the Herron collection, Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
“William Moreland, Community Worker,” Charlotte Observer, July 1, 1951.
The Maple Leaf, yearbook of Livingstone College, 1928, p. 22. On-line at https://archive.org/stream/mapleleaf192802livi/mapleleaf192802livi_djvu.txt
“Large Crowd Hears Concert,” Charlotte Observer, July 11, 1930.
“Officers Named by Negro Group,” Charlotte Observer, June 3, 1942. Willie James Griffin, “Courier of Crisis, Messenger of Hope: Trezzvant W. Anderson and the Black Freedom Struggle for Economic Justice“ (UNC Ph.D. dissertation, 2016), pp. 54 – 57.
For instance: “Negro League Will Meet in Open Forum,” Charlotte Observer, May 5, 1934. (on that evening, McCrorey Heights resident J. Henry Warren led the discussion).
“Appreciate Editorial,” Charlotte Observer, April 15, 1933.
“Dr. Charles Houston to Address Negroes at Second Ward Monday,” Charlotte Observer, November 25, 1934. Vann R. Newkirk, “The Development of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Charlotte, North Carolina, 1919 – 1965,” History Ph.D. Dissertation, Howard University, 2002, pp. 58 – 59.
“Negroes Ask Council for Better Protect,” Charlotte Observer, October 25, 1934.
Willie James Griffin, “Courier of Crisis, Messenger of Hope: Trezzvant W. Anderson and the Black Freedom Struggle for Economic Justice,“ History Ph.D. dissertation, UNC Chapel Hill, 2016, pp. 188 – 189.
“Will Discuss Negro Y.M.C.A.,” Charlotte Observer, October 11, 1936.
“Negro ‘Y’ Drive is Opened Here,’’ Charlotte Observer, February 1, 1937.
“Negroes Keep History Week,” Charlotte Observer, February 15, 1937.
Basketball was a new game when Moreland was a youngster, invented by YMCA instructor James Naismith in 1891. Southern black colleges enthusiastically adopted it; the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association formed in 1912 as a basketball association. Moreland’s Livingstone College joined the CIAA in 1931.“Black Participation in College Basketball,” Wikipediawebsite, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_participation_in_college_basketball. “Central Collegiate Athletic Association,” Wikipediawebsite, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Intercollegiate_Athletic_Association
“Negro Teams to Battle Tonight,” Charlotte Observer, January 20, 1933.
“Smith to Take on Livingstone Tuesday Night,” Charlotte Observer, March 15, 1951. The Second Ward Gym, opened in 1949, still stands today. “Second Ward High School Gymnasium: Survey and Research Report,” Charlotte Mecklenburg History Landmarks Commission, 2008. On-line at http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/Surveys&r2ndward.htm
“William Moreland, Community Worker,” Charlotte Observer, July 1, 1951. The 1947 Bulletin of the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association, p. 39. On-line at https://archive.org/details/bulletinofcentra00cent_2
“Constitution Day to be Observed at Second Ward,” Charlotte Observer, September 17, 1937.
“Americanism in Negro School,” Charlotte Observer, October 26, 1940.
“A Courtesy Appreciated,” Charlotte Observer, March 9, 1942.
“Tin Can Week Begins Monday,” Charlotte Observer, June 27, 1943.
“Howard Moreland Named Chairman of Board 332,” Charlotte Observer, August 22, 1945.
Vermelle Diamond Ely, Grace Hoey Drain and Amy Rogers, Black America Series: Charlotte, North Carolina(Arcadia Publishing, 2001), p. 60.
“Second Ward High School Gymnasium: Survey and Research Report,” Charlotte Mecklenburg History Landmarks Commission, 2008. On-line at http://www.cmhpf.org/S&Rs%20Alphabetical%20Order/Surveys&r2ndward.htm
“Garinger Urges Public Support of Negro Tilts,” Charlotte Observer, October 23, 1947. “Plans for Negro Athletic Field by Community Improvement Club Endorsed,” Charlotte City Council Minutes, December 15, 1948.
“Ticket Sales Pushed for Football Game,” Charlotte Observer, November 5, 1947. “Lions and Tigers Battle Thursday for City Title,” Charlotte Observer, November 2, 1947.
First use of the Queen City Classic name in the Charlotte Observer: “Colored Clubs in Two Games,” Charlotte Observer,November 7, 1947.
“Lions Win by 13-0,” Charlotte Observer, November 7, 1947.
Pamela Grundy, Color and Character: West Charlotte High and the Struggle for African American Equality(UNC Press, 2016), pp. 26, 37.
“Meeting Scheduled for Workers in Drive to Get $5,000 for High School Stadium,” Carolina Times, August 29, 1953. “Enthusiasm Runs High in Stadium Drive,” Carolina Times, September 5, 1953. “Stadium Drive at Charlotte Expected to Hit $10,000 Mark,” Carolina Times, September 26, 1953.
“Stadium Plans Being Pushed,” Charlotte Observer, January 12, 1954.
“Smith to Take on Livingstone Tuesday Night,” Charlotte Observer, March 15, 1951.
Ross, James, oral history interview with Kyle Cox, April 12, 2010, UNC Charlotte Special Collections. Transcript on-line at https://clas-pages.uncc.edu/revolutionpark/wp…/12/James_Ross_II_transcript.docx See also, Black, James, oral history interview with Sarah Blanchett, May 3, 2010, UNC Charlotte Special Collections, Tape Log.
“Negro Gets Republican Post,” Charlotte Observer, September 25, 1962.
“Ceremonies Set for Opening Charlotte Unit of M & F Bank,” Carolina Times (Durham), February 24, 1962.
“William Moreland, Community Worker,” Charlotte Observer, July 1, 1951.
“New Moles,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 31, 1952. “Moles Plan for Sixth Conclave,” Washington Afro-American, April 3, 1956. “Convention Planning,” The Afro-American (Baltimore, Washington), April 28, 1956. “Charlotte, N.C. Socialites Entertain,” Pittsburgh Courier, January 14, 1961. “N.C. Links Hold Bridge Brunch at Club Excelsior,” Afro-American(Baltimore, Washington), December 17, 1960.
“Sub-deb Party Holds Spotlight at Northwest,” Charlotte Observer, April 24, 1955.
Ranch style house, one-story in red-brick. There is a main gable roof which extends at the east side to form a carport. A wife front gable highlights the living room area with its large “picture” window. Front bedroom windows are grouped in a strip, further accentuating the horizontality of the house, a Ranch style characteristic.
Madison 1722 permit a
Date issued: May 1, 1963
Owner: W. H. Morland
Contractor: G. R. Hicklin
Estimated cost: $19,000
Other permit info: Build residence
First listed in city directory
1964 – W. Howard Moreland & Gladys F.
He: Principal, Marie G Davis School
She: Teacher, Isabella Wyche School
(?related to Clarence Moreland at 1617 Patton, Principal at NW Jr High?)
1982 city directory – Mrs. Gladys F. Moreland. Retired.
“Ceremonies Set for Opening Charlotte Unit of M & F Bank,” Carolina Times (Durham), February 24, 1962.
“Charlotte, N.C. Socialites Entertain,” Pittsburgh Courier, January 14, 1961.
“Convention Planning,” The Afro-American (Baltimore, Washington), April 28, 1956.
“Moles Plan for Sixth Conclave,” Washington Afro-American, April 3, 1956.
“N.C. Links Hold Bridge Brunch at Club Excelsior,” Afro-American (Baltimore, Washington), December 17, 1960.
“New Moles,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 31, 1952. On-line at:
Photo of Gladys Moreland and other Moles celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Excelsior Club.
Moreland, Clarence, Funeral program in the Digital Smith Collection, Inez Moore Park Archives, Duke Library, Johnson C. Smith University.
Moreland, George W. C., Funeral program in the Herron collection, Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
“Second Ward High School Gymnasium, Survey & Research Report” (Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission).