For years, there was no high school rivalry in Charlotte more intense than the one between Second Ward and West Charlotte.
The Second Ward Tigers and West Charlotte Lions – the largest black high schools in the city – settled their differences in the Queen City Classic football game at Memorial Stadium.
From 1947-1968, the Queen City Classic was an annual highlight in Charlotte’s black community. It transcended football. Serving as a homecoming for both schools, the game was preceded by a parade down McDowell Street. At halftime, there was a “battle of the bands” and a Miss Queen City Classic was crowned.
Another highlight – in the years when the game was played at night – came when the stadium’s lights were doused so fans could better see the flaming baton being twirled by the drum major.
Proceeds from the Queen City Classic went to the schools’ athletic departments, where there was so little money that Second Ward wore used, blue-and-white uniforms handed down from all-white Central High, while West Charlotte relied on gear from Harding (West Charlotte and Harding still have the same school colors of maroon and gold today).
The final Queen City Classic was played in 1968. A year later, Second Ward High was demolished under a federal program called urban renewal, which was used to expand uptown and get rid of some blighted areas, which at the time were mostly black. Thousands of black families were displaced and their neighborhoods broken apart to make way for more valuable business properties. David Scott