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Washington descendant to keynote April 7 Founders’ Day Convocation

March 28, 2019

Contact: Michael Tullier, APR, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Sarah Washington O'Neal Rush
Sarah Washington O’Neal Rush

Fourth-generation descendant of Tuskegee University founder Booker T. Washington, Sarah Washington O’Neal Rush, will provide the keynote address at the university’s upcoming Founders’ Day Convocation on Sunday, April 7. The program will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the University Chapel as the concluding event for this year’s Founders’ Day Weekend reunion activities.

Rush is Washington’s great-granddaughter through his second wife, Olivia Davidson. Her grandfather, Ernest Davidson, was the last born of Booker T. Washington’s three children. Her late mother, Louise Washington O’Neal, was born and raised across the street from the university in a home purchased by Washington as a wedding present for his Ernest and wife Edith Meriweather.

She is the founder of the Extraordinary Legacy and the Booker T. Washington Empowerment Network — organizations that carry on Washington’s legacy of lifting up those who struggle to lift themselves. Through this work, and her many published writings on empowerment and self-improvement, she seeks to help inner-city youth and their families improve their lives and move beyond their circumstances. Her writings include her autobiography, “Rising up from the Blood: A Legacy Reclaimed, a Bridge Forward,” which she published in 2014. 

The convocation will cap off a weekend of activities centered on the founding of the university, its founding president’s birthday, and celebrating alumni reunion classes spanning 1939 and 1979. Reunion events will include honoring the Golden Tiger Reunion Class of 1969 as these graduates celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation.

Reunion events begin on Friday, April 5, and will include presentations by faculty on current research and innovation projects, a fireside chat with President Lily D. McNair, and a “Golden Days and Crimson Nights” reunion gala. Saturday’s events will include the marking of the university’s annual William L. Dawson Institute Lecture and Concert, followed by the Class of 1969 Golden Celebration Party.

For more information about the university’s annual Founders’ Day Weekend events, visit

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