See Rock City

See Rock City

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tuskegee, AL

Tuskegee, AL

Tuskegee is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 11,846 and is designated a Micropolitan Statistical Area. Located in Macon County, Alabama, Tuskegee has been the site of major African-American achievements for more than 100 years. It is where, in 1881, Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers, which later became Tuskegee Institute and then Tuskegee University, with the mission of educating a newly freed people for self-sufficiency, and was the birthplace of Rosa Louise Parks in 1913. Today it remains a center for African-American education and became a part of the National Parks System in 1974. One of the most famous teachers at Tuskegee was George Washington Carver, whose name is synonymous with innovative research into Southern farming method and crops. Tuskegee and Tuskegee Institute were also home to the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first squadron of African-American pilots in the U.S. Military. The city is the county seat of Macon County, and is known as the home of Tuskegee University "The Pride of the Swift Growing South".

Harris-Wadsworth House, 615 West Main Street, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

History of the name

The name Tuskegee means "Warrior" in the Muskhogean dialect of the Creek language. It was the name of at least two Indian tribes, one living in central Alabama and the other in Tennessee.

Law and government

Tuskegee has a council-manager government led by an four-member city council, a mayor, and an appointed city manager.

The statue of a Confederate soldier stands in the town square park. The pedestal reads: "Erected by The Daughters of the Confederacy to the Confederate Soldiers of Macon County".

The city council acts as a legislative body of the city, passing laws and regulations and appointing citizens to the city's various boards. Each member of the city council is elected for a four-year term from one of three geographic districts. Tuskegee has one city council member that is elected at-large and serves as mayor-pro tem.

Hunter-Callaway House, 811 North Maple Street, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

Members of the current Tuskegee City Council are:

District 1 - The Honorable Lutalo K. Aryee
District 2- The Honorable Willie Louise Fields
District 3 - The Honorable Georgette White Moon
Council member At-Large - The Honorable Mae Doris Williams
The mayor of Tuskegee is elected in the city at-large to a four year term. The duties of the mayor are to promote the city, communicate with residents, and preside over City Council meetings. As such, the position of mayor in Tuskegee is primarily ceremonial. The current mayor of Tuskegee is Omar Neal.

The day-to-day operations of Tuskegee are run by the city manager. The City Manager is appointed by and serves at the leisure of the City Council. The City Manager is responsible for the appointment and dismissal of all department heads, advises the council on policy matters, and creates and administers the city budget. The current City Manager of Tuskegee is Alfred Davis.


Tuskegee has many places in which to find information. Downtown Tuskegee tells the history of Tuskegee/Macon County from the time that they were incorporated to now. It also serves as the Tuskegee Visitors Center so for more information about visiting Tuskegee stop by the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center.

G. Y. Lamar House, U.S. Highway 29 (State Highway 15), Tuskegee vicinity, Macon County, AL

Some Tuskegee Area attractions:

Tuskegee University/Tuskegee Institute Historic District

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (including the Oaks and GWC Museum)

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site @ Historic Moton Field

City of Tuskegee Historic District

The Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multi-Cultural Center

Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church

Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center

Tuskegee National Forest

The Tuskegee Repertoire Theatre/Jessie Clinton Art Center

Tuskegee City Lake

Kirks Old Farm Museum

Victoryland Greyhound Park

A view of the Macon County Courthouse from the park in the town square.


Tuskegee has one weekly newspaper, The Tuskegee News, which has been in continual existence since 1865.

Notable residents

Andre Thornton, born in Tuskegee, major league baseball player

Lionel Richie, born & raised in Tuskegee, then graduated from Tuskegee
University,R&B singer, songwriter, composer, producer and occasional actor.

The Tuskegee Airmen

Lt Gen Russell C. Davis former Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard.

Rimp Lanier, former Major League Baseball player.

Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated Radio DJ

Eric Motley, former US State Department official and director of the Aspen Institute

Evander McIvor Law, American Civil War general

Alice Coachman, first African American female Olympic gold medalist High Jump.

See also

Nella Larsen,

Nellallitea 'Nella' Larsen (first called Nellie Walker) (April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964) was an American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance who wrote two novels and a few short stories. Though her literary output was scant, what she wrote was of high quality, earning her recognition by her contemporaries and by present-day critics.


Nella Larsen went by various names throughout her life. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 13, 1891 as Nellie Walker. She was the daughter of Danish immigrant Marie Hanson and Peter Walker, a West Indian man of color from Saint Croix who soon disappeared from her life. Her mother was a domestic case worker. Taking the surname of her Scandinavian stepfather Peter Larsen, Walker also at times went by Nellye Larson, Nellie Larsen and, finally, Nella Larsen. When she married, she sometimes used her married name Nella Larsen Imes.

As a child, Larsen lived several years with her mother's relations in Denmark. In 1907-08, she briefly attended Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee, a historically Black University. George Hutchinson speculates that she was expelled for some violation of Fisk's very strict dress or conduct codes; she then spent four years in Denmark, before returning to the U.S.

In 1914, Larsen enrolled in the all-black nursing school at New York City's Lincoln Hospital. Upon graduating in 1915, she went South to work at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, where she became head nurse at a hospital and training school. While in Tuskegee, she came in contact with Booker T. Washington's model of education and became disillusioned with it. (Washington died shortly after Larsen arrived in Tuskeegee.) Working conditions for nurses were poor; their duties included doing hospital laundry. Larsen lasted only until 1916, when she returned to New York to work again as a nurse. After working as a nurse through the Spanish flu pandemic, she left nursing and became a librarian.

In 1919, Larsen married Elmer Samuel Imes, a prominent physicist, the second African American to receive a Ph.D in physics. They moved to Harlem, where Larsen took a job at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL). In the year after her marriage, she began to write and published her first pieces in 1920.

Certified in 1923 by the NYPL's library school, she transferred to a children's librarian's position in Manhattan's Lower East Side. In 1926, having made friends with important figures in the Negro Awakening that became the Harlem Renaissance, Larsen gave up her work as a librarian and began to work as a writer active in the literary community. In 1928, she published Quicksand (ISBN 0-14-118127-3), a largely autobiographical novel, which received significant critical acclaim, if not great financial success.

In 1929, she published Passing (ISBN 0-14-243727-1), her second novel, which was also critically successful.

In 1930, Larsen published "Sanctuary", a short story for which she was accused of plagiarism. Her marriage was in trouble during this period.

"Sanctuary" resembled Sheila Kaye-Smith’s short story "Mrs. Adis", first published in the United Kingdom in 1919. Kaye-Smith was an English writer, mainly on rural themes, and very popular in the US. "Sanctuary"’s basic plot, and a little of the descriptions and dialogue are virtually identical. Compared to Kaye-Smith’s tale, "Sanctuary" is '... longer, better written and more explicitly political, specifically around issues of race, rather than class' as in "Mrs Adis" [Pearce 2003]. Larsen reworked and updated the tale into a modern American black context. Pearce also mentions that much later Sheila Kaye-Smith herself wrote in All the Books of My Life (Cassell, London, 1956) that she had in fact based "Mrs Adis" on an old story by St Francis de Sales. It is unknown whether she ever knew of the Larsen controversy.

Despite the accusations of plagiarism, which turned out to be false, Larsen received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She used it to travel to Europe for several years, spending time in Mallorca and Paris, and worked on a novel about a love triangle. The three protagonists were all white; the book was never published.

Larsen returned to New York in 1933 after her divorce was complete. She lived on alimony until her ex-husband's death in 1942. She was not writing (and never would again), was apparently depressed, and may have been using drugs. After her ex-husband's death, Larsen returned to nursing and disappeared from the literary circles with which she had previously travelled. She lived on the Lower East Side, and did not venture to Harlem. Many of her old acquaintances speculated incorrectly that she, like some of her characters, had crossed the color line and disappeared. However, George Hutchinson's recent biography of Larsen demonstrated that she remained in New York, working as a nurse, and avoiding contact with her earlier friends and world.


As mentioned above, Nella Larsen was of biracial parentage, which some at the time considered at the time "low birth." She obtained a good education (though not a college degree); she married into Harlem's black professional class (but never quite felt at home in it); she knew all the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance, but was about a decade older than Langston Hughes' generation. She was, according to Darryl Pinckney, more comfortable in the interracial bohemia of Greenwich Village than among the "Talented Tenth".


Nella Larsen's first novel tells the story of Helga Crane, a fictional character loosely based on Larsen's own early life. Crane is the lovely and refined daughter of a Danish mother and a West Indian black father who abandons Helga and her mother soon after Helga is born. Unable to feel comfortable with any of her white-skinned relatives, Helga lives in various places in America and visits Denmark in search of people among whom she feels at home.

Her travels bring her in contact with many of the communities which Larsen knew. The reader meets Helga, a first-year teacher in "Naxos," a Southern Negro boarding school based on Tuskegee University, where she finds herself dissatisfied with the complacent philosophy of those around her. She criticizes a sermon by a white preacher who advocates that blacks ought to sensibly segregate themselves into black schools, that striving for social equality would lead blacks to become avaricious. Helga abruptly quits her teaching and moves to Chicago, where her white uncle, now married to a bigoted woman, shuns her. Then she goes to Harlem, where she finds a refined but often hypocritical black middle class obsessed with the "race problem."

Taking her uncle's legacy and advice, she visits her aunt in Copenhagen, where she is treated as a highly desirable racial exotic. Realizing that she deeply misses seeing Negro people, she returns to NYC. Experiencing a near mental breakdown, Helga happens onto a store-front revival and a charismatic religious experience. After seducing and marrying the preacher who converts her, she moves with him to the poor Deep South. There she is disillusioned by the people's blind adherence to religion. In each of her moves, Helga Crane fails to find fulfillment. She is looking for much more than simply how to synthesize her own mixed ancestry--she expresses complex feelings about what she and her friends see as genetic differences between races.

The novel also tells the tale of Helga's search for a marriage partner: as it opens, she has become engaged to marry for social benefits a prestigious Southern Negro man she does not really love; in Denmark she turns down the proposal of a famous white Danish artist for similar reasons; by the final chapters she has seduced and married a stereotypical black Southern preacher. The novel's close is deeply pessimistic, as Helga Crane sees what she hoped would be sexual fulfillment and success of her altruistic ideas of "uplifting" the poor southern blacks she lives among, turn into an endless chain of pregnancies and suffering. It is not her skin color after all that is the obstacle to her happiness.

Helga is a complex character. The decline of her life after she moves south, however, is less well-expressed. The book is well worth reading for a glimpse of how the Washington and DuBois conflict may have affected real people in the early part of the 20th century.


Clare and Irene were two childhood friends. They lost touch when Clare's father died and she moved in with two white aunts. By hiding that Clare was part-black, they allowed her to 'pass' as a white woman and marry a white racist. Irene lives in Harlem, commits herself to racial uplift, and marries a black doctor. The novel centers on the meeting of the two childhood friends later in life, and the unfolding of events as each woman is fascinated and seduced by the other's daring lifestyle. The novel traces a tragic path as Irene becomes paranoid that her husband is having an affair with Clare (the reader is never told whether her fears are justified or not, and numerous cues point in both directions). Clare's race is revealed to John Bellew. The novel ends with Clare's sudden death by "falling" out of a window.

The end of the novel is famous for its ambiguity, which leaves open the possibility that Irene has pushed Clare out the window, or the possibility that Clare has killed herself.

Many see this novel as an example of the plot of the tragic mulatto, a common figure in early African-American literature. Others suggest that the novel complicates that plot by introducing the dual figures of Irene and Clare, who in many ways mirror and complicate each other. The novel also suggests erotic undertones in the two women's relationship. Some read the novel as one of repression.

Recently, Passing has received renewed attention because of its close examination of racial and sexual ambiguities and liminal spaces. It has achieved canonical status in many American universities.

Rosa Parks with Martin Luther King in the background

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist whom the U.S. Congress later called the "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement."

On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind: Irene Morgan, in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys, in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Interstate Commerce Commission respectively in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks's action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks's act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Congressional Gold Medal, a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall, and the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

Seat layout on the bus where Parks sat, December 1, 1955.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Although widely honored in later years for her action, she also suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia and became embroiled in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast. Her death in 2005 was a front-page story in the United States' leading newspapers.

Early years

Rosa Parks was born as Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913, to James McCauley and Leona Edwards, respectively a carpenter and a teacher, and was of African-American, Cherokee-Creek, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Rosa Parks's great grandfather was a Scottish-Irishman. She was small, even for a child, and she suffered poor health and had chronic tonsillitis. When her parents separated, she moved with her mother to Pine Level, just outside Montgomery, Alabama. There she grew up on a farm with her maternal grandparents, mother, and younger brother Sylvester, and began her lifelong membership in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She attended rural schools until the age of eleven then enrolled at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery where she took academic and vocational courses. Parks then went on to a laboratory school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes for secondary education but was forced to drop out to care for her grandmother, and later for her mother, after they became ill.

Rosa Parks with the NAACP's highest award, the Spingarn Medal, in 1979.

Under Jim Crow laws, black and white people were segregated in virtually every aspect of daily life in the South, including public transportation. Bus and train companies did not provide separate vehicles for the different races but did enforce seating policies that allocated separate sections for blacks and whites. School bus transportation was unavailable in any form for black schoolchildren in the South. Parks recalled going to elementary school in Pine Level, where school buses took white students to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs: "I'd see the bus pass every day... But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world."

Although Parks' autobiography recounts that some of her earliest memories are of the kindness of white strangers, her situation made it impossible to ignore racism. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of her house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists, and its faculty was ostracized by the white community.

Rosa Parks and U.S. President Bill Clinton

In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery, at her mother's house. Raymond was a member of the NAACP, at the time collecting money to support the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women. After her marriage, Rosa took numerous jobs, ranging from domestic worker to hospital aide. At her husband's urging, she finished her high school studies in 1933, at a time when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma. Despite the Jim Crow laws that made political participation by black people difficult, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try.

Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey fingerprints Parks during her February 22, 1956 indictment for organizing a boycott.

In December 1943, Parks became active in the Civil Rights Movement, joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected volunteer secretary to its president, Edgar Nixon. Of her position, she later said, "I was the only woman there, and they needed a secretary, and I was too timid to say no." She continued as secretary until 1957. In the 1940s, Parks and her husband were also members of the Voters' League. Sometime soon after 1944, she held a brief job at Maxwell Air Force Base, a federally owned area where racial segregation was not allowed, and rode on an integrated trolley. Speaking to her biographer, Parks noted, "You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up." Parks also worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for a white couple, Clifford and Virginia Durr. The politically liberal Durrs became her friends and encouraged Parks to attend—and eventually helped sponsor her—at the Highlander Folk School, an education center for workers' rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee, in the summer of 1955.

Like many black people, Parks was deeply moved by the brutal murder of Emmett Till in August 1955. On November 27, 1955—only four days before she refused to give up her seat—she later recalled that she had attended a mass meeting in Montgomery which focused on this case as well as the recent murders of George W. Lee and Lamar Smith. The featured speaker at the meeting was T.R.M. Howard, a black civil rights leader from Mississippi who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership.

Civil rights activism

Events leading up to boycott

See also: Homer Plessy and Plessy v. Ferguson

In 1944, athletic star Jackie Robinson took a similar stand in a confrontation with a United States Army officer in Fort Hood, Texas, refusing to move to the back of a bus. Robinson was brought before a court-martial, which acquitted him. The NAACP had accepted and litigated other cases before, such as that of Irene Morgan ten years earlier, which resulted in a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court on Commerce Clause grounds. That victory, however, overturned state segregation laws only insofar as they applied to travel in interstate commerce, such as interstate bus travel, and Southern bus companies immediately circumvented the Morgan ruling by instituting their own Jim Crow regulations. In November, 1955, just three weeks before Parks' defiance of Jim Crow laws in Montgomery, the Interstate Commerce Commission, in response to a complaint filed by WAC Sarah Keys, closed the legal loophole left by the Morgan ruling in a landmark case known as Keys v. Carolina Coach Company. The ICC prohibited individual carriers from imposing their own segregation rules on interstate travelers, declaring that to do so was a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Interstate Commerce Act. But neither the Supreme Court's Morgan ruling nor the ICC's Keys ruling addressed the matter of Jim Crow travel within the individual states.

Black activists had begun to build a case to challenge state bus segregation laws around the arrest of a 15-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. On March 2, 1955, Colvin was handcuffed, arrested and forcibly removed from a public bus when she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She claimed that her constitutional rights were being violated. At the time, Colvin was active in the NAACP's Youth Council, a group to which Rosa Parks served as Advisor.

Rosa Parks in 1964.

Colvin recollected, "Mrs. Parks said, 'do what is right.'" Parks was raising money for Colvin's defense, but when E.D. Nixon learned that Colvin was pregnant, it was decided that Colvin was an unsuitable symbol for their cause. Soon after her arrest she had conceived a child with a much older married man, a moral transgression that scandalized the deeply religious black community. Strategists believed that the segregationist white press would use Colvin's pregnancy to undermine any boycott. The NAACP also had considered, but rejected, earlier protesters deemed unable or unsuitable to withstand the pressures of cross-examination in a legal challenge to racial segregation laws. Colvin was also known to engage in verbal outbursts and cursing. Many of the legal charges against Colvin were dropped. A boycott and legal case never materialized from the Colvin case, and legal strategists continued to seek a complainant beyond reproach.

In Montgomery, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had "colored" sections for black people—who made up more than 75% of the bus system's riders—generally in the rear of the bus. These sections were not fixed in size but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people also could sit in the middle rows, until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus. Black people were not allowed to sit across the aisle from white people. The driver also could move the "colored" section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people could board to pay the fare, but then had to disembark and reenter through the rear door. There were times when the bus departed before the black customers who had paid made it to the back entrance.

Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus on December 21, 1956, the day Montgomery's public transportation system was legally integrated. Behind Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss, a UPI reporter covering the event.

For years, the black community had complained that the situation was unfair, and Parks was no exception: "My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest...I did a lot of walking in Montgomery." Parks had her first run-in on the public bus on a rainy day in 1943, when the bus driver, James F. Blake, demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. As she began to exit by the front door, she dropped her purse. Parks sat down for a moment in a seat for white passengers to pick up her purse. The bus driver was enraged and barely let her step off the bus before speeding off. Rosa walked more than five miles (8 km) home in the rain.

United States civil rights movement

Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site,

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, commemorates the contributions of African American airmen in World War II. Moton Field was the site of primary flight training for the pioneering pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. It was constructed in 1941 as a new training base. The field was named after former Tuskegee Institute principal Robert Russa Moton, who died the previous year.

Established on November 6, 1998, the National Historic Site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places the same day. The site has a temporary visitor center, pending completion of the first phases of a restoration project around 2008. An oral history project, consisting of interviews of hundreds of people involved in the Tuskegee Airmen, was completed in 2005 and will eventually be available to the public at the historic site and at the Library of Congress.

Depression-era U.S. poster advocating early syphilis treatment. Although treatments were available, participants in the study did not receive them.

Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male

Tuskegee is located in central Alabama, 40 miles east of Montgomery. Tuskegee is the county seat of Macon County and has an area of 15.7 square miles, 15.5 of which is land, and 0.2 of which is water. The City of Tuskegee has a council-city manager form of government that consists of a four-member elected city council that includes the mayor and an appointed city manager, who acts as the chief administrative officer and oversees public services. The council members and the city manager each serve four-year terms.

Cobb House, 504 East Main Street, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

Tuskegee has been home to a number of nationally recognized figures. Rosa Parks was born in 1913 in Tuskegee. The Commodores, who had a number of funk and soul hits during the 1970s and 1980s, met as students at Tuskegee University. Their lead singer, Lionel Ritchie, who later went on to considerable success as a solo act, attended Tuskegee on a tennis scholarship and graduated with a major in economics. Andre Thornton, who had a 14-year career in Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos, and Cleveland Indians, was born in Tuskegee in 1949.

Early History

The land on which Tuskegee now stands was first settled soon after the French and Indian War of 1754-63. The treaty officially ending the war declared that France would surrender Alabama to the English, who took control of the French fort at Tuskegee. After the American Revolution, the United States took possession of the area, which became part of the Mississippi Territory and in 1819 part of the state of Alabama. The settlement of Tuskegee was founded and laid out in 1833, one year after the establishment of Macon County by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, who fought in the Creek Indian wars under General Andrew Jackson. Woodward is said to have selected Tuskegee as the county seat. He also built the first home in town.

Frame Plantation House, County Road 26, Tuskegee vicinity, Macon County, AL

At the time of Tuskegee's founding, the area was still populated by members of the Creek Nation. The town itself was named after a Creek leader named Taskigi, whose town was located in the triangle formed by the convergence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers. Tuskegee was located along an historic Indian trail that later became the highway between Fort Mitchell and Montgomery. After the Creek Indians were removed from Alabama in 1836, the area began to fill with white settlers. The city was officially incorporated in 1843, and the first local newspaper, the Tuskegee News, was first published in April 1865.

Rush-Thornton House, U.S. Highway 29, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

Tuskegee was one of five settlements in Macon County that attracted a significant amount of trading business by 1855. Of these settlements, however, Tuskegee was the only one that did not have the advantage of being located on a railroad, but because it was the county seat as well as in a central location, it still drew business. Also, because the railroad did not run through Tuskegee, as it did in most towns, the town streets were laid out around the central square where the courthouse was located.

Rockefeller Hall Bath House, Tuskegee University Campus, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

The town gained national fame with the establishment of what is now Tuskegee University in 1881 by educator Booker T. Washington and through the agricultural research made famous by George Washington Carver. Tuskegee gained additional recognition during World War II as the site of the Tuskegee Airfield, home of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen. More than 1,000 pilots were trained at historic Moton Field and Tuskegee Army Air Field. In more recent history, the town garnered much negative press as the site of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which African American men were used as subjects, without their knowledge or consent, in a public health study on the effects of untreated syphilis. The experiment resulted in the creation of the National Center for Bioethics in Research in Health Care at Tuskegee University in 1997.

W. B. Carr House, 301 Maple Street, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL


The 2007 Census estimate of Tuskegee's population was 11,370, a decrease from the 2000 Census, which records a population of 11,846. The city's population is 95.5 percent African American, 2.6 percent Caucasian, 0.7 percent Asian, 0.7 percent Hispanic, and 0.2 percent Native American. The 2000 Census also reveals a median household income of $18,889 and a per capita income of $12,340.

Grey Columns, Old Montgomery Road (Institute Road), Tuskegee, Macon County, AL


The two major employers in Tuskegee are the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, a hospital complex run by the U.S. Veterans Administration, which employs 1,300 people, and Tuskegee University, which employs approximately 1,000 people. The majority of people in Tuskegee are employed in the fields of education, health care, and social services at 47.9 percent. Other major industries include arts, entertainment, and food services (10.1 percent); retail sales (9.0 percent); public administration (7.6 percent); and manufacturing (6.5 percent). Agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and mining comprise the smallest category of employment at 0.4 percent.

Alexander-Hurt-Whatley House, County Road 10 (Old Columbus Highway), Tuskegee vicinity, Macon County, AL


Tuskegee has an early learning center, two elementary schools (Tuskegee Public School and Washington Public School) for grades 1 through 5, and a middle school (Tuskegee Institute Middle School) for grades 6 through 8. Tuskegee also has one high school, Booker T. Washington High School, which teaches grades 9 through 12 and has more than 900 students.

Carver Museum, Old Montgomery Road, Tuskegee Institute Campus, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

Tuskegee has played a major role in the history of Alabama, as well as the nation, especially in the field of education. It was the site of the first law school in Alabama and also was important in women's education with the opening of the Baptist College for Women in 1848 and the Tuskegee Female College in 1856 (which later moved to Montgomery and became Huntingdon College). The Tuskegee Military Institute for Boys was established there in 1898. Of most significance was the establishment of the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers in 1881, later called the Tuskegee Institute, and now Tuskegee University. In addition to innovative and beneficial research by George Washington Carver, the school made great strides in agricultural education and outreach among area farmers with its Movable School, headed by Thomas Monroe Campbell.

G. C. Thompson House, 302 North Main Street, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL


Two major highways intersect in Tuskegee; U.S. Highway 80 is the main east-west artery, and U.S. Highway 29 provides a north-south route. Historic Moton Field Municipal Airport is located three miles north of the central business district in Tuskegee and is still used for public air transportation. Tuskegee also is serviced by the Greyhound Bus line, which provides transportation to many cities all over the United States, and specifically offers a route to and from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Attractions and Recreation

Tuskegee University is home to several attractions, including the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, which includes the original buildings constructed in brick by the first students. It has been part of the National Park System since 1974. The site also includes the George Washington Carver Museum and The Oaks, Booker T. Washington's home. The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, at Moton Field, is a major historical attraction that is currently housed in a temporary visitors center. A new interpretive facility is in the planning stages.

The Butler Chapel AME Zion Church, located in downtown Tuskegee, served an important role during the civil rights movement. On June 25, 1957, three thousand black residents met at this church to protest the state legislature's decisions to minimize the number of black voters in Tuskegee.

The Oaks, Old Montgomery Road, Tuskegee Institute Campus, Tuskegee, Macon County, AL

Tuskegee has an active cultural scene, and many citizens participate in the Tuskegee Repertory Theatre at the Jesse Clinton Arts Centre, which presents dramatic and musical productions that reflect the cultural legacy of the town and its African American residents. Visitors can learn about the contributions of Tuskegee citizens to its history and to the history of human rights at the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, which offers displays and programming related to town and county history and the role it has played in human rights.

Recreational opportunities can be found at Lake Tuskegee, which offers picnic areas and 92 acres of water for fishing, boating, and water skiing. The 11,000-acre Tuskegee National Forest features hiking trails and also hosts a replica of Booker T. Washington's childhood cabin.

In honor of one of Tuskegee's most famous figures, the town holds two annual celebrations: the George Washington Carver (GWC) Arts and Crafts Festival and the Annual Carver Sweet Potato Festival. The GWC Arts and Crafts Festival is held on the Tuskegee Square every May on the Saturday before Mother's Day. It features arts and crafts, vendors, rides, farm exhibits, talent shows, and other entertainment including door prizes. The Annual Carver Sweet Potato Festival is held every third Saturday in October, also on the town square. It specifically celebrates Carver's sweet potato research. The event includes current sweet potato farmers sharing cultivation tips, entering competitions, and ultimately selling sweet potatoes.

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