Founder of Tuskegee University honored during graveside service


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (July 3, 2012) — The life and work of Tuskegee University founder, Booker T. Washington, were remembered during a small graveside ceremony to mark the 131st anniversary of the institution’s founding today. For the second year, university and community members gathered and a wreath was laid at Washington’s gravesite on campus. 

 Robin Washington-Banks
 Booker T. Washington gravesite
Robin Washington-Banks, the great granddaughter of Tuskegee’s founder, said the event is meant to raise awareness of the university’s July 4, 1881 opening and increase support for the establishment of a statewide holiday honoring Washington and the school’s founding.

“Nobody here needs a reminder of what Booker has done for this community, what he has done for the state, the country and for the world,” Washington-Banks said to the crowd.

Washington-Banks began the program by reading a passage from “Up from Slavery” where Washington recalled the doubts he felt about establishing the university:

“The work that must be done to lift these people up seemed beyond accomplishing. I was only one person. … I wondered if I could accomplish anything and if it was worth it for me to try. ”

Tuskegee University interim chief of staff, Tamara Lee, reflected on the history of the university’s beginnings and the importance of continuing Washington’s work.

 “Many years ago we started in a one-room shanty at Butler Chapel, it is truly amazing that we are standing here on a 5,000-acre with over 100 buildings,” Lee said.  “So, we stand now on the shoulders of all those who have come before us with the leadership of Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon. His vision continues the vision of Booker T. Washington.”

This year’s program also featured a prayer by Rev. Gregory S. Gray, dean of the University Chapel, a song by alumna, Joyce Carter German, '72; and remarks from Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal.

The event was sponsored by Sodexo and Friends of Booker T. Washington Day in Alabama.

For more information on the Friends of Booker T. Washington Day in Alabama, contact Robin Washington-Banks at:



© 2012 Tuskegee University

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