In honor of Tuskegee University's 25th Anniversary in 1906, Paul Laurence Dunbar was asked by Founder, Booker T. Washington, to write a poem capturing the Tuskegee spirit. The following words were authored by Dunbar, America's most famous Black poet at the time, in compliance with Washington's request. A melody suggested by Dunbar was replaced at a later time by the present tune composed by Nathaniel Clark Smith, Tuskegee University Band Director (1906-1913).
The Tuskegee Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Tuskegee, thou pride of the swift growing South
We pay thee our homage today
For the worth of thy teaching, the joy of thy care;
And the good we have known 'neath thy sway.
Oh, long-striving mother of diligent sons
And of daughters whose strength is their pride,
We will love thee forever and ever shall walk
Thro' the oncoming years at thy side.
Thy Hand we have held up the difficult steeps,
When painful and slow was the pace,
And onward and upward we've labored with thee
For the glory of God and our race.
The fields smile to greet us, the forests are glad,
The ring of the anvil and hoe
Have a music as thrilling and sweet as a harp
Which thou taught us to hear and to know.
Oh, mother Tuskegee, thou shinest today
As a gem in the fairest of lands;
Thou gavest the Heav'n-blessed power to see
The worth of our minds and our hands.
We thank thee, we bless thee, we pray for thee years
Imploring with grateful accord,
Full fruit for thy striving, time longer to strive,
Sweet love and true labor's reward.