July 04, 2014

On this day July 4th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

July 4 1881 Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute.  

On July 4, 1881 House Bill 165 authorized Tuskegee University- “the pride of the swift, growing south.” Founded in a one-room shanty, near Butler Chapel AME Zion Church on this day 133 years ago, with thirty adults represented the first class - Dr. Booker T. Washington was the first teacher.  

DARC must give credit to both George Campbell, a former slave owner, and Lewis Adams, a former slave, tinsmith and community leader, for their roles in the founding of the University. Adams without a day of formal education could read and write. In addition to being a tinsmith, he was also a shoemaker, a harness-maker and experienced in other trades. W. F. Foster was a candidate for re-election to the Alabama Senate and approached Lewis Adams about the support of African-Americans in Macon County.  

What would Adams want, Foster asked, in exchange for his (Adams) securing the black vote for him (Foster). Adams could well have asked for money, secured the support of blacks voters and life would have gone on as usual. But he didn’t. Instead, Adams told Foster he wanted an educational institution - a school - for his people. Col. Foster carried out his promise and with the assistance of his colleague in the House of Representatives, Arthur L. Brooks; legislation was passed for the establishment of a "Negro Normal School in Tuskegee." Initial space and building for the school was provided by Butler Chapel AME Zion Church not far from this present site. Not long after the founding, however, the campus was moved to "a 100 acre abandoned plantation" which became the nucleus of the present site.  

Booker T. Washington made the Lewis Adams dream happen. He was principal of the school from July 4, 1881, until his transition in 1915. Dr. Washington, a highly skilled organizer and fund-raiser, was counsel to American Presidents, a strong advocate of Negro business, and instrumental in the development of educational institutions throughout the South. He maintained a lifelong devotion to his institution and to his home - the South. Dr. Washington is buried on the campus of Tuskegee University near the University Chapel.

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