Many are celebrating today as Independence Day. Families are getting together for BBQs, fireworks, and just a plain ole good time. Yes, today is significant to America’s independence but it is also significant in the establishment of Tuskegee University on this date in 1881.
Lewis Adams, a former slave and community leader, is credited with the founding of Tuskegee University. With his influence in the Black community, W.F. Foster approached Lewis about assisting him in securing the black votes for his upcoming election bid. Adams made a deal with Foster that for the Black votes he wanted a school where his people could gain an education and as they say the rest is history. Tuskegee University was formed from that one transaction/deal.
Booker T. Washington was the first Principal (known today as President) of the one room shanty that only had 30 adult students in the first class taught at the college. Dr. Washington served as Principal of the college from 1881 until his death at the age of 59 in 1915.
During the tenure of President Robert R. Morton (1915-1935), The Tuskegee VA Hospital was established and was the only hospital with an all Black staff of professionals.
In 1935, Dr. Morton was preceded by Dr. Fredrick Patterson. We can thank Dr. Patterson for the creation of the School of Veterinary Medicine because over 75% of today’s Black Veterinarians are Tuskegee graduates. What a great accomplishment!
Dr. Patterson was an awesome leader. He brought the Tuskegee Airman training to the College. He is also credited for establishing the United Negro College Fund/UNCF (www.uncf.org).
Tuskegee grew during the transformational years of the Civil Rights Movement but remained an intact and viable institution for Blacks under the leadership of Dr. Luther Foster (1953-1981).
Under the tenure of Dr. Benjamin F. Payton (1981-2010), Tuskegee was able to achieve the creation of the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research & Health Care and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic site was launched. Tuskegee has the largest athletic arena in the SIAC-The General Daniel “Chappie” James Center for Aerospace Science and Health Education, due in part to the leadership of Dr. Payton. The Alums of TU can also thank Dr. Payton for completing the renovation and expansion of the Historic Dorothy Hall, The Kellogg Conference Center is one of only 12 worldwide.
Tuskegee received the honor of being ranked the No. 1 institution in the state of Alabama and No. 6 in the nation amoung historically black institutions by U.S. News and World Report in 2008.
Tuskegee offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees to future Tuskegee students in 56 majors and continues to be the only Historically Black College and University to offer School of Veterinary Medicine. Tuskegee opened its doors almost 130 years ago with only 30 adult students in a one room shanty and have grown to over 3,00 students, a campus that encompasses 5,000 acres and 79 buildings all from one man determination that his people deserved a quality education.
“Lifting the Veil” is their motto. A monument of Booker T. Washington stands tall in the center of the campus with an inscription that reads “He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.”
If you would like to learn more about Tuskegee University, get information concerning admission, or donate to this great school, please visit www.tuskegee.edu.