This Day in Black History: July 4, 1881

This Day in Black History: July 4, 1881

Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, holds first day of class, with Booker T. Washington serving as the first teacher.

Published July 4, 2014

On July 4, 1881, educator and activist Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, known today as Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Washington served as the school's first principal and presided over the first day of class, which was held in a one-room church before the first official building was erected one year later. A driving force behind building the school's legacy, Washington recruited the most qualified Black teachers to teach at the school, including scientist George Washington Carver, who arrived in 1896.


While only 30 men and women made up the school's inaugural class, Tuskegee University's influence and legacy has since flourished. Today, the university boasts more than 2,994 students and is the largest producer of African-Americans with baccalaureate degrees in Math, Science and Engineering in Alabama, according to the school's website.

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(Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress)

Written by Britt Middleton


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