Carolyn F. Stephenson
The dream of a former slave, Booker T. Washington, came true with the creation of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. With money for teacher’s salaries only, Washington held classes in an old church. He modeled his school after the Hampton Institute in Virginia. He was strict about morals and cleanliness. He urged his pupils to share what they had learned about agriculture and life with the rural folk. He believed in learning by doing or hands on trades. Even the academics had practical messages.
Tuskegee developed and grew under Washington’s leadershlp. There was widespread support of the school. Supporters from the North and South made generous contributions to increase the size and popularity of the institution. George Washington Carver, a graduate from Iowa Agricultural College, was invited by Washington to be the department head of Agriculture. Carver worked on developing uses for Southern agricultural products. Carver’s research brought recognition to Tuskegee and himself as an outstanding scientist.
Visitors are invited to tour the Historic Campus District, stopping first at the orientation center. Interpretive programs are available as are maps of the site. Walking tours provide close up views of the buildings constructed while Washington was still alive. Bricks for many of these buildings were made by students on campus. R.R. Taylor, the first black graduate of MIT, designed and supervised construction of these buildings. Tours of Washington’s home, The Oaks are offered as are visitations to working classrooms. This would be an inspirational and educational stop for all students and their families.