A unifying force

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Among the fine programs being held this Black History Month by the Suffolk Public Library was Tuesday’s presentation on the history of Booker T. Washington High School.

The first school in Suffolk for black students was open from 1913 to 1969. Initially, it taught only grades 1 through 8, but ninth grade was added in 1923. Two years later, a high school opened to teach grades 6 to 11, and 12th grade was added in 1949. In 1953, a new high school building opened on Walnut Street. Both schools were open until the city schools were forced to integrate in 1969.

These days, the high school building still stands as Booker T. Washington Elementary School, and hundreds of students attend each day. At the original location on Lee Street, private residences stand, as does a historical marker commemorating the school that was dedicated in September 2016.

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Julia Bradley, class of 1956 and historian for the alumni association, spoke during the library program on Tuesday.

Remembering our history is important, and Black History Month is an excellent time to remind Suffolk citizens about Booker T. Washington High School. Its alumni, like the alumni of other Suffolk schools for black students in the days of segregation, will report to you that they got a fine education from dedicated teachers in spite of the inequality and lack of resources imposed upon the schools. Its alumni went on to illustrious careers in a variety of pursuits and, now that many of them are retired, they are dedicated to keeping the legacy of their school alive. One of the ways by which the alumni association does that is by giving scholarships each year to deserving young people graduating from Suffolk Public Schools and headed off to college.

We thank the alumni association for their dedication to keeping Suffolk history alive.