Booker T. Washington High School, Class of 1933, seated on the lawn in front of the main entrance to the school. Founded in 1916, the school was, until its closing in 1974, the hub of the separate educational system for young African-Americans in Columbia. Beginning with elementary grades, it became a standard high school in 1924, and for many years was the largest African-American high school in South Carolina. A source of great pride to the African-American community and an important part of its cultural life, the school offered both a rigorous and respected academic curriculum, an extensive vocational education, and activities for African-American students that ranged from a superb band and gospel choir to highly competitive athletic teams. In 1956, the facilities of the school were expanded and renovated, but the 1954 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in "Brown v. the Board of Education" that segregated schools, no matter how fine their physical plant and educational programs, were inherently unequal, led to the end of this excellent institution. Columbia schools were integrated, and the expanding University of South Carolina campus absorbed the Booker T. Washington School's physical plant, some of whose buildings are still in use by the University. Richard S. Roberts photograph.
Courtesy of the Estate of Richard Samuel Roberts.