Despite Segregation, Black High Schools Did Big Things

African-American high schools were known for excellence.

Model Making At Armstrong Technical High School

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Despite Segregation, Black High Schools Did Big Things - Before public schools were integrated, there were all-Black high schools in major American cities that were known for academic excellence and turning out stellar graduates. As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, take a look at these eight schools that were shining lights in their communities. – Jonathan P. Hicks (@HicksJonathan)  (Photo: PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

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A Star Performer in the Nation’s Capital - Established in 1870, Dunbar High School was America's first public high school for Black students. Since its inception, the school graduated many well-known figures of the 20th century, including Charles Drew, Robert Weaver and Benjamin O. Davis. Its illustrious faculty included Mary Church Terrell and Carter G. Woodson. (Photo: NDAA Historical Collection/NSS /Landov)

In St. Louis, a Renowned High School - Charles H. Sumner High School was the first school for African-American students west of the Mississippi River. The school excelled in sports and academics. The school?s alumni includes Arthur Ashe, Chuck Berry, Grace Bumbry and Tina Turner. (Photo: wiki commons)

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In St. Louis, a Renowned High School - Charles H. Sumner High School was the first school for African-American students west of the Mississippi River. The school excelled in sports and academics. The school’s alumni includes Arthur Ashe, Chuck Berry, Grace Bumbry and Tina Turner. (Photo: wiki commons)

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In Segregated Atlanta, a Diamond of Black Education - Constructed in the 1920s, Booker T. Washington High School was the first Black public high school built in Atlanta. It was – and continues to be – an important cultural institution in that city’s Black community. Because of its quality of education, many students came from out of town to attend this school. Its graduates include Martin Luther King Jr. In this picture, former President George W. Bush speaks at the high school beside school principal Dr. Shirley Kilgore. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

A Pittsburgh School Known for Athletes and Musicians - Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh is a public school that turned out such prominent African-American graduates as musicians Billy Strayhorn, Erroll Garner and Ahmad Jamal as well as athletes Maurice Stokes and Chuck Cooper. (Photo: Charles 'Teenie' Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)

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A Pittsburgh School Known for Athletes and Musicians - Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh is a public school that turned out such prominent African-American graduates as musicians Billy Strayhorn, Erroll Garner and Ahmad Jamal as well as athletes Maurice Stokes and Chuck Cooper. (Photo: Charles 'Teenie' Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)

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Segregation in Oklahoma Leads to Stellar School - Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was founded in 1913 after statehood brought about segregated schools for African-American children. It became highly acclaimed for athletics and academics. Its graduates include John Hope Franklin and the NBA’s Wayman Tisdale and Ryan Humphrey.  (Photo: Jim Bounds/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT /Landov)

In Memphis, a High School that Produced Notable Graduates - Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis was among the first public high schools in Memphis for African-Americans in this segregated Tennessee city. The school?s graduates include former Washington mayor Marion Barry and Benjamin Hooks, the former NAACP president. (Photos from left: Robert Giroux/Files /Landov/REUTERS, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 

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In Memphis, a High School that Produced Notable Graduates - Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis was among the first public high schools in Memphis for African-Americans in this segregated Tennessee city. The school’s graduates include former Washington mayor Marion Barry and Benjamin Hooks, the former NAACP president. (Photos from left: Robert Giroux/Files /Landov/REUTERS, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 

A Florida School Strong in Sports - When George Washington Carver first opened in 1899, it was for Black students residing in Dade County, Florida. The school developed a strong reputation for sports. After the schools were integrated, it became a junior high school. (Photo: Courtesy George Washington Carver Middle School)

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A Florida School Strong in Sports - When George Washington Carver first opened in 1899, it was for Black students residing in Dade County, Florida. The school developed a strong reputation for sports. After the schools were integrated, it became a junior high school. (Photo: Courtesy George Washington Carver Middle School)

The One-Time Largest High School for Negroes in the World - A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham first opened in 1900 as a school for Black children, holding its first graduation at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The school grew to 3,761 students in 1946, earning it the titles as ?the largest high school for Negroes in the world.? Its graduates include jazz musician Sun Ra and Birmingham Mayor William Bell. (Photos from left: David Corio/Redferns, Mark Almond/AL.com/Landov)

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The One-Time Largest High School for Negroes in the World - A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham first opened in 1900 as a school for Black children, holding its first graduation at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The school grew to 3,761 students in 1946, earning it the titles as “the largest high school for Negroes in the world.” Its graduates include jazz musician Sun Ra and Birmingham Mayor William Bell. (Photos from left: David Corio/Redferns, Mark Almond/AL.com/Landov)