Williston Legacy Graduation: Honoring The Classes of ’69 & ’70

The City of Wilmington’s Equity and Inclusion Office has worked with county and school district partners to collaboratively host a Legacy Graduation for the Williston Senior High School classes of 1969 and 1970, scheduled for July 1 at 2 p.m. at the Williston Middle School Gymnasium. The ceremony will be streamed live on WECT.com and on WECT’s Facebook page.

The school district’s desegregation plans in the late 1960s did not provide an opportunity for these classes to graduate from their historic school, with district officials abruptly closing the senior high in 1968 and repurposing the building.

Mayor Bill Saffo said the graduation ceremony will provide a long-belated chance to honor these graduates’ connection to “the greatest school under the sun.” In a message to graduates, Saffo praised their courage in the face of racism and the “innumerable contributions each of [these graduates have] already made here in Wilmington and beyond,” while expressing regret that it has taken over 50 years to formally recognize them as Williston alumni.

In the weeks leading up to the graduation ceremony, New Hanover County Schools has been sharing the stories of the alumni who lived through those turbulent years. Read more of their stories here.

Phillip Clay, Ph.D., will serve as keynote speaker. Clay is a 1964 graduate of Williston Senior High School and served as the first Black Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For more information on the jointly-hosted Legacy Graduation event, contact Joe Conway, the City of Wilmington’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer (Joe.Conway@wilmingtonnc.gov), or visit www.nhcs.net/community/williston-legacy-graduation.

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