Snow Hill Institute

bedSnow Hill Alabama

The room is cold.
The bed hard with
too few quilts.
More fumes than heat
come from the small
gas heater in the fireplace.

All around, the empty,
crumbling campus.
Inside the spirits swirl
in the cold air.


edwarfpSeveral years ago my husband and I attended a conference in Selma Alabama by the Black Belt African American Genealogical & Historical Society. We stayed with our friend, Donald Stone on the campus of the Snow Hill Institute. It was once a thriving and bustling school but since the early 1970s when it was closed due to school integration, it’s been pretty much deserted.  Stone, who is a descendent of the founder lives there.  We stayed in the house next to the one he was in. It was so sad to see what was once an important educational institution, empty.  Below is a short interview with Donald Stone. Above is a poem I wrote during the August Postcard Poetry month about the experience of spending the night there.

For more information about Snow Hill Normal and Industrial School:

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20 thoughts on “Snow Hill Institute

  1. That was a good little video. I want to know more now 🙂

    I smiled to myself when I read your poem. We have been having unusually hot weather here the past week or so – temperatures around 32 – 35 degrees Celsius..and it’s not summer yet. I was staying with a friend last weekend and her beds (like mine) had been stripped of their blankets. Truth be known, I was a bit chilly in the early hours of the morning. She’s a big knitter and I was sleeping in her wool room. Baskets of wool surrounded the bed. I couldn’t help but see the irony of my situation. It was a little bit like that poem “Water, water everywhere…not a drop to drink” only in this instance “Wool, wool, everywhere…not a blanket knit !” Thankfully I had kept the shawl she lent me the night before which kept me warm.

  2. It is so sad when things change for the worse. Great little video, quite an interesting post. I also have to remark how nice your photos are in your blog header.

  3. It is sad to see these pieces of history disappear. Future generations are the lesser for not knowing about them.

  4. One thing I don’t understand:
    During integration, if this was such a great institute,
    why wasn’t it allowed to continue and permit whites to join in?!
    That would have made it part of integration
    and been able to pursue its vocation.
    Or were black schools closed systematically?
    Interesting fellow, that Donald, even if I think a storm is just a storm.
    One finds inspiration where one must.

    1. Since integration was viewed by most as a way to integrate black people into the dominant white culture, black institutions were deemed inferior and schools were closed down. Black students went to white schools, white students didn’t begin to attend formerly black schools. You know what happened when black students were integrated into white schools – can you imagine how the parents would have reacted if it was vice versa?

      Stone is a really interesting person he was active in SNCC and went to prison for years for protesting against the war and refusing to go.

      1. This is such a thorny issue. I know that many wonderful Black teachers and principals lost their jobs as a result of integration. Something just wasn’t right.

        1. So, students were integrated,
          but not the teachers…
          I’m starting to understand why there was something
          called affirmative action later on
          when merits of an individual aren’t recognized
          due to his/her color…

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