SCHOOL'S HISTORY

Booker T. Washington Comprehensive High School, named for the famous educator, opened in September 1924 under the auspices of the Atlanta Board of Education, with the late Charles Lincoln Harper as principal. As the first public high school for African-Americans in the State of Georgia and the Atlanta Public Schools, Washington High School serves as a beacon in history.

Designed by Atlanta-born architect Eugene C, Wachendorff, the building incorporate medieval and Byzantine elements, including the dramatic main entrance with five arches in two tiers. Six additions have been made to the original four-story building which is situated on 21.4 acres of land. It is fitting that visitors pass the statue of the school's namesake on the way to the entrance. One of the foremost black educators of the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in 1856 on a small farm in Virginia. He went on to become the founder of Tuskegee institute in 1881.

In 1927, the only exact replica of the Booker T. Washington monument at Tuskegee University in Alabama was erected at the school's entrance. The statue of Washington, called "Booker T. Washington Lifting the Veil of Ignorance," is an exact replica of the original bronze at the Tuskegee Institute by sculptor Charles Keck. The inscription reads: "He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry."

The illustrious history of Booker T. Washington High School is chronicled in two rooms housing artifacts from 1924 to the present including: commencements programs, graduation class pictures, yearbooks, former and current administrators' pictures, homecoming memorablia, a roster of famous alumni, period pieces such as functions, diplomas, trophies, books, athletic items, awards, honors, and citations.

 Today, the school, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, boasts an enrollment of more than 1600 students with a faculty and staff of more than 100. Recent visitors to the historic institution have included South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, activist Jesse Jackson, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, and President George W. Bush. The school serves as a cornerstone of Atlanta Public School's comprehensive reform program, Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams). The project aims to increase the number of inner city students who graduate and go to college.

Nine principals have served Booker T. Washington Comprehensive High School since it's opening in 1924:

Mr. Charles L. Harper (1924-1942)
Mr. Clinton Cornell (1942-1961)
Dr. J. Y. Moreland (1961-1968)
Dr. Alfonso Dawson (1968-1973)
Dr. Robert L Collins, Jr. (1973-1990)
Dr. Robert Lowe (1990-1994)
Dr. Joyce Clarke (1994-1996)
Dr. Shirley Kilgore (1996-2005)
Mr. Carter E. Coleman, Jr., (2005 - 2009)

Dr. Charcia Nichols, Dr. Samuel Scavella, Mr. George Rutledge (Interim


To chronicle the school's illustrious history, an archives housing artifacts from 1924 to the present was opened in the main building in May 1998. The archives are open to alumni during school hours and during special events. Public viewing is available with administrative authorization.

Booker T. Washington High School, named for the famous educator, opened in September 1924 under the auspices of the Atlanta Board of Education, with the late Charles Lincoln Harper as principal. It is the first public high school for African-Americans in the state of Georgia and the Atlanta Public Schools. Booker T. Washington High School is composed of three small schools:
  • Early College (Mr. George Rutledge, Principal)
  • Health, Science, & Nutrition (Dr. Sam Scavella, Principal)
  • Banking, Finance, & Investment (Dr. Charcia Nichols, Principal)

Born in Virginia in the mid-to-late 1850s, Booker T. Washington put himself through school and became a teacher. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University), which grew immensely and focused on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer, Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois over the best avenues for racial uplift.

Born to a slave on April 5, 1856, Booker Taliaferro Washington's life had little promise early on. In Franklin County, Virginia, as in most states prior to the Civil War, the child of a slave became a slave. Booker's mother, Jane, worked as a cook for plantation owner James Burroughs. His father was an unknown white man, most likely from a nearby plantation. Booker and his mother lived in a one-room log cabin with a large fireplace, which also served as the plantation’s kitchen.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, making him the first African American to be so honored. Both President Roosevelt and his successor, President William Howard Taft, used Washington as an adviser on racial matters, partly because he accepted racial subservience. His White House visit and the publication of his autobiography, Up from Slavery,



1) What is the name of the Statute erected in front of the school?
"Lifting the Veil of Ignorance"
"Vincit que se Vincit"
"You can't keep a man down, without staying down with him"