The Wiley H. Bates High School is named after Wiley H. Bates, who generously donated $500 toward the purchase of land for the original high school. Although born into slavery in the South, after the Civil War he worked as a water/freight boy on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. By the age of twelve, he moved to Annapolis with his mother where he worked culling oysters and selling wood at the foot of Main Street in Annapolis. While Wiley Bates never received a formal education and was self-taught, he successfully started his own grocery business and later pursued interests in real estate.
Mr. Bates acquired more property in Anne Arundel County than any other African American man of his time. By age 40, he had become one of the wealthiest men in Annapolis. He dedicated his life to assisting his fellow African American citizens to achieve success in politics, education, property ownership and business enterprises. His financial donation enabled the Wiley H. Bates High School to be built as Anne Arundel County’s first and only high school for African Americans.