Tuskegee, Alabama

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"Tuskegee" redirects here. For other uses, see Tuskegee (disambiguation).
The Macon County Courthouse in Tuskegee was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1987
The Macon County Courthouse in Tuskegee was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1987
Nickname(s): Thou Pride of the Swift Growing South
Location in Macon County and the state of Alabama
Location in Macon County and the state of Alabama
Coordinates: 32°25′53″N 85°42′24″W / 32.43139°N 85.70667°W / 32.43139; -85.70667
Country United States
State Alabama
County Macon
 • Mayor Johnny Ford
 • Total 15.7 sq mi (40.7 km2)
 • Land 15.5 sq mi (40.1 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
Elevation 463 ft (141 m)
Population (2005)
 • Total 11,590
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 36083, 36087, 36088
Area code(s) 334
FIPS code 01-77304
GNIS feature ID 0128211
Website http://www.tuskegeealabama.gov/

Tuskegee (/tʌsˈkɡ/[1]) is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 11,846.

Tuskegee has been an important site in African-American history and highly influential in United States history since the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the area was largely used as a cotton plantation, dependent on African-American slave labor. After the war, many continued to work on plantations in the rural area, which was devoted to agriculture. In 1881 the Tuskegee Normal School was founded and its director, Booker T. Washington developed a national reputation and philanthropic network to support education of freedmen.


The only city in rural Macon County, this is the county seat. The area was settled by European Americans in the 1830s; they brought or purchased African-American slaves to develop the rich soil for cotton plantations, the chief commodity crop through the 19th century.

In 1881, Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers on a former plantation. Initially founded to train teachers for the segregated school system and freedmen for self-sufficiency, the programs were expanded and it later was named the Tuskegee Institute. Graduate courses were added and it became Tuskegee University. It became known for stressing a practical education with work experience by students, to prepare them for the work available in the small towns and rural areas most would return to.[2] Washington led the school for decades, building a wide network of white industrialist donors among some of the major philanthropists of the era. At the same time, Washington secretly provided funding to the NAACP for its legal defense of some highly visible civil rights cases, including supporting challenges to southern states' discriminatory constitutions and practices that disenfranchised African Americans.[3]

Beginning in the early 20th century, the school was the site of the now-infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment (1932-1972). With funding cut by the Great Depression, the Institute cut back on medications to treat the disease and studied the effects of untreated syphilis. In addition, participants were not informed that treatment was available for their disease.

The university is a center of excellence for African-American education. The heart of the university has been designated as a National Historic District and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. One of the most famous teachers at Tuskegee was George Washington Carver, whose name is synonymous with innovative research into Southern farming methods and products developed from a variety of crops. Tuskegee and Tuskegee Institute were also home to the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first squadron of African-American pilots trained in the U.S. Military for service in World War II.

The town was the birthplace of Rosa Louise Parks in 1913; she became a civil rights activist in the 1950s in Montgomery, Alabama.

With the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans in Tuskegee and other cities organized to seek the power to register and vote, as was their right under the federal constitution. They had been largely disenfranchised since passage of a new state constitution at the turn of the century that had discriminatory provisions. In 1957 there were 400 registered black voters of the total 1000 in Tuskegee, although they were a much larger majority of the population. That year the state legislature redefined the boundaries of the city of Tuskegee, where blacks outnumbered whites on a four-to-one basis; it created an irregular, 28-sided city boundary that excluded all black registered voters but a few; those excluded included the professional faculty of Tuskegee University.[4]

The law was intended to guarantee that minority whites could retain control of the city even if more blacks succeeded in the arduous process of getting to register to vote. Some 3,000 African-American residents protested passage of the law at a church in Tuskegee; they began an economic boycott of white businesses in the city.[5]

African Americans also organized to challenge the law in court, in a case supported by the NAACP. This case was known as Gomillion v. Lightfoot, which was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1961.[5] The court ruled that the gerrymandering violated the Fifteenth Amendment and that "states were not insulated from federal judicial review when they jeopardized federally protected rights."[4] Ultimately the exclusionary gerrymandering was overturned.

History of the name[edit]

Tuskegee, or Tuskigi, was the name of a tribal town of the Creek Indians. It was also the name of at least two Muscogee Indian tribes, one living in central Alabama and the other in Tennessee.


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

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 single-member districts. Tuskegee has one city council member who is elected at-large to a four-year term and serves as mayor-pro tem. 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.


Tuskegee is located at 32°25′53″N 85°42′24″W / 32.43139°N 85.70667°W / 32.43139; -85.70667 (32.431506, -85.706781).[6]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2). 15.5 square miles (40 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (1.53%) is water.


Downtown Tuskegee tells the history of Tuskegee/Macon County from the time of incorporation to the present. It also has a site serving as the Tuskegee Visitor Center. For more information about visiting Tuskegee, stop by the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center.

Some Tuskegee area attractions:

  • Tuskegee University/Tuskegee Institute Historic District [1]
  • Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (including the Oaks and GWC Museum) [2]
  • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site @ Historic Moton Field [3]
  • City of Tuskegee Historic District
  • The Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center
  • Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church [7]
  • Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center [8]
  • Tuskegee National Forest [4]
  • The Tuskegee Repertory Theatre/Jessie Clinton Arts Center [5]
  • Tuskegee City Lake
  • Kirks Old Farm Museum
  • Victoryland Greyhound Park[6]


The table at right shows the effects of a state law in 1957 that created new boundaries for the city of Tuskegee that excluded most black residents, dramatically reducing the population. This case was ruled on by the United States Supreme Court in 1962, which ruled against the state. New boundaries were drawn, as reflected by 1970 population numbers. Because of lack of economic opportunities, both the city and rural county have lost population since the late 20th century.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,370
1890 1,803 −23.9%
1900 2,170 20.4%
1910 2,803 29.2%
1920 2,475 −11.7%
1930 3,314 33.9%
1940 3,937 18.8%
1950 6,712 70.5%
1960 1,750 −73.9%
1970 11,028 530.2%
1980 13,327 20.8%
1990 12,257 −8.0%
2000 11,846 −3.4%
2010 9,865 −16.7%
Est. 2013 9,035 −8.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
2013 Estimate[10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 11,846 people, 4,169 households, and 2,326 families residing in the city. The population density was 765.7 people per square mile (295.7/km²). There were 5,101 housing units at an average density of 329.7 per square mile (127.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.48% Black or African American, 2.59% White, 0.19% Native American, 0.69% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. 0.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 4,169 households out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 22.6% were married couples living together, 29.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.2% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 25.4% from 18 to 24, 19.9% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 80.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $18,889, and the median income for a family was $26,862. Males had a median income of $23,333 versus $22,951 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,340. About 30.0% of families and 35.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.1% of those under age 18 and 26.3% of those age 65 or over.


Tuskegee has one weekly newspaper, The Tuskegee News, which has been operated since 1865.[12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ See "Pronunciation of Tuskegee." thefreedictionary.com.. Retrieved: 3 October 2010.
  2. ^ "The Booker T. Washington Era (Part 1)", African American Odyssey, Library of Congress, 21 Mar 2008, retrieved 3 Sep 2008 .
  3. ^ Richard H. Pildes, Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon, Constitutional Commentary, vol.17, 2000, pp.13-14 Accessed 10 March 2008
  4. ^ a b Allen Mendenhall, "Gomillion v. Lightfoot", Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2 May 2011
  5. ^ a b Richard B. Sobol, "Reviewed Work: Gomillion versus Lightfoot: The Tuskegee Gerrymander Case by Bernard Taper", Columbia Law Review, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Apr., 1962), pp. 748-751, Published by: Columbia Law Review Association, Inc., accessed 17 January 2015 (subscription required)
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ We Shall Overcome - Butler Chapel AME Zion Church. Cr.nps.gov (1957-06-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  8. ^ Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System East Campus - Locations. .va.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ The Tuskegee News

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°25′53″N 85°42′24″W / 32.431506°N 85.706781°W / 32.431506; -85.706781