Tuskegee's Rich HistoryBuilding on a Legacy

Tuskegee was founded on July 4, 1881, by former slave Lewis Adams and former slave owner George W. Campbell. Soon after, Booker T. Washington was appointed as its founding principal — serving until his death in 1915. The famed “Booker T. Washington Monument” — a central meeting point for tour groups and campus guests — is a visual reminder of the regard Washington had for education.

In 1966, the university became the first historically black college or university (HBCU) designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. In 1974, it became the nation’s only HBCU designated as a National Historic Site, which includes National Park Service-maintained sites like The Oaks, Booker T. Washington’s home, and the George Washington Carver Museum.

[music playing]

At Tuskegee University, we've had many historical giants like Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, General Daniel "Chappie" James, and Robert R. Taylor. Those are some of the people that created or started that Tuskegee experience that helped, basically, establish what being a Tuskegee student is all about.

Dr. Booker T. Washington instated three principles during his tenure as president-- industry, preparing students to do a lot for themselves, the heart, being of service to those around you and, of course, the mind, which is knowledge. When you think about the late 1800s going into the early 1900s, that was a pivotal time for African Americans and their independence and being able to educate themselves. So I think his teaching, or doctrine behind the principle of "lifting the veil of ignorance," is basically just showing African Americans that they can accomplish anything that they want to on their own terms.

Some of the historical rich locations that we have here at Tuskegee University would include Booker T. Washington Lifting the Veil monument, which basically displays the mission that Tuskegee students have. You also have the chapel that includes the beautiful "Singing Windows." And then, last but not least, our cemetery, where some of our biggest figures here at Tuskegee University lay at rest. For me, the reason why I chose Tuskegee University, because on my first visit here, it really felt like home.

I was the first in my family to actually consider Tuskegee for the institution of higher learning. I will say the availability of scholarship got me here, but its position in African American history and culture is what really made me stay.

[music playing]