Booker T. Washington High School (Houston)

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Booker T. Washington High School
Booker T. Washington High School
119 East 39th Street
Houston, Texas 77018
United States
Coordinates 29°49′19″N 95°23′56″W / 29.821837°N 95.398854°W / 29.821837; -95.398854Coordinates: 29°49′19″N 95°23′56″W / 29.821837°N 95.398854°W / 29.821837; -95.398854
Established 1893

Dr. Carlos Phillip, II

Color(s) Royal Blue and Gold          
Mascot War Eagle
Nickname "old Colored High"

Booker T. Washington High School (nicknamed "Booker T.") is a secondary school located in the Independence Heights community in Houston, Texas.[1]

Booker T. Washington, which serves grades 9 through 12, is a part of the Houston Independent School District. Booker T. Washington has a neighborhood program that serves neighborhoods outside of the 610 Loop and inside Beltway 8 in the northwest part of Houston, including the neighborhoods of Independence Heights, Highland Heights, and most of Acres Homes. The school was named after education pioneer Booker T. Washington.

The High School For Engineering Professions is located in the Booker T. Washington campus.


The school was established in 1893 in Houston's Fourth Ward as "Colored High." The first location for the school, 303 West Dallas, is considered to be within Downtown Houston as of 2007.[2] Originally it was the only secondary school for black people in the city. In 1925 the school board stated that it would build a new black high school due to the increasing black population. The Houston Informer stated that the schools need to be named after prominent black people from the city and/or other successful black persons. The original colored high school was renamed after Booker T. Washington, a famous black educator who became the namesake of many black schools in the Southern United States.[3] The school was given its current name in 1928.[citation needed] Washington was relieved by the construction and opening of Jack Yates High School and Wheatley High School in the 1920s.[4]

It moved to its present-day location in Independence Heights in 1959.[5] Lockett Junior High School, which closed in June 1968, was established in the former Washington campus.[2]

After Franklyn Wesley retired as principal,[when?] Houston ISD chose Mark Bedell, formerly an assistant principal at Worthing High School, as the principal.[6] Victor Keys, an assistant principal and an alumna of Washington, will remain as an assistant principal. Some alumni of Washington High School and members of the community around the school protested the decision to hire Bedell because they wished for the district to hire Keys instead of Bedell.[7][8] The current principal is LaShonda Bilbo-Ervin.

Wesley died September 11, 2007, at age 88. Wesley served as the principal of the campus for more than 40 years. He worked as an educator for more than 65 years, spending all of the years except for 10 in HISD.

In 2007, a Johns Hopkins University study commissioned by the Associated Press cited Washington as a "dropout factory" where at least 40% of the entering freshman class does not make it to their senior year.[9]

In February 2012, because the school population was at a historic low of 823, several members of the Independence Heights community, led by Sylvester Turner, a Texas Legislature representative, advocated for reinvestment in the school. They advocated for making Washington competitive with Reagan High School and Waltrip High School.[1] The leaders argue that HISD had neglected the school.[10] Turner and Washington High School officials established a donation campaign. As of January 19, 2012, the campaign raised $135,000. Kroger donated $10,000 of the funds.[11]

Around 2012, each year 400 students from Booker T. Washington transfer to Reagan and Waltrip.[1]

By 2015 the district purchase several houses around the high school as part of its program to rebuild the high school.[12] After criminals began taking parts from the houses residents argued that the way the houses were acquired could attract criminality.[13]


In 2011 the Texas Education Agency gave the overall school an "unacceptable" rating. 51% of the school's 9th grade students passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills mathematics portion.[1]

In 2012 Houston Community College established an auto mechanic program at Booker T. Washington. The previous auto mechanic program closed around 1997. Before 2012 the auto shop had been filled with waste. The Houston Independent School District paid $300,000 to restore the auto shop.[1]

Around 2012 Texas A&M University and Booker T. Washington partnered to give university scholarships to some engineering students.[1]


Sylvester Turner advocated for the replacement of the gymnasium floors; they were replaced in the northern hemisphere fall of 2011. Turner said in February 2012 that the campus needed an overhaul greater than the $3.8 million that the district allotted to the school as a result of the previous bond election.[1]


Houston ISD provides school bus transportation to students who live more than two miles away from the school. Students zoned to the school and students who are enrolled in the magnet program are eligible for bus transportation.

The METRO city bus line also operates the 66 Yale bus line, which stops at the intersection of Yale Street and Cockerel Street.

Student body[edit]

In 1995 the school had 1,520 students.[1] In 2010 the school had about 900 students.[14] In February 2012 it had 823 students, a historic low in the population statistics.[1]

In the 2011-2012 school year, the magnet school, with a capacity of 400 students, had 226 students.[1]

School uniforms[edit]

Washington requires its students to wear white, gold, or royal blue polo shirts, and khaki pants, navy blue pants, black pants. students are allowed to were jeans without holes, skin should not show.

The Texas Education Agency specified that the parents and/or guardians of students zoned to a school with school uniforms (the definition includes dress codes which limit colors) may apply for a waiver to opt out of the uniform policy so their children do not have to wear the uniform;[15] parents must specify "bona fide" reasons, such as religious reasons or philosophical objections.

Feeder patterns[edit]

The following elementary schools feed into Washington High School:[16]

Most of M.C. Williams Middle School[25] and small parts of Black Middle School[26] and Alexander Hamilton Middle School[27] feed into Booker T. Washington.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Eldridge Dickey (class of 1964) - Former quarterback/wide receiver for the AFL Oakland Raiders; in 1968 became the first African-American to be selected in the first round of a professional football draft.
  • Mercury Hayes (class of 1992) - Former NFL wide receiver/kick returner for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Washington Redskins practice squad.[28]
  • Jennifer Holliday (class of 1978) - Grammy award winning singer and actress.[29]
  • Mike Jones (rapper) (did not graduate) - Notable Houston Rapper
  • Lawrence Marshall (class of 1951) - Former board member for Houston Independent School District [30]
  • Speedy Thomas (class of 1965) - Former NFL receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, and New Orleans Saints.[citation needed]
  • Rogers O. Whitmire, B.S., M.S., M.D. (class of 1963) - One of the first five African-American physicians to graduate from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (1973) and the first student of any race to graduate from Michigan State University's medical school in 3 years; first African-American physician to complete the OB/GYN (Obstetrics and Gynecology) program at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas; in 1977 became the first African-American physician to establish a private medical office in the Texas Medical Center of Houston, Texas (active continuously from 1977 until Dr. Whitmire's death in 2015).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Radcliffe, Jennifer. "Effort to save historic Booker T. High gains steam." Houston Chronicle. Thursday February 2, 2012. Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "School Histories." Houston Independent School District. Retrieved on February 3, 2012.
  3. ^ Steptoe, Tyina Leaneice. Dixie West: Race, Migration, and the Color Lines in Jim Crow Houston. ProQuest, 2008. ISBN 0549635874, 9780549635871. p. 211.
  4. ^ Kellar, William Henry. Make Haste Slowly: Moderates, Conservatives, and School Desegregation in Houston. Texas A&M University Press, 1999. ISBN 1603447180, 9781603447188. p. 31 (Google Books PT12).
  5. ^ "School Days, School Days." Rice University. Retrieved on February 3, 2012.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ HISD's pick for principal draws ire
  8. ^ HISD under fire after naming new Booker T. Washington principal
  9. ^ "Report points to 'dropout factories'." Houston Chronicle. October 31, 2007.
  10. ^ "Community leaders fear historic high school in danger." WLS-TV. Thursday November 17, 2011. Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  11. ^ "Kroger Donates $10,000 to Booker T. Washington High School." (Archive) Houston Independent School District. January 19, 2012. Retrieved on February 8, 2012.
  12. ^ Schiller, Dane. "Neighborhood a battered ghost town waiting for new 'Booker T'." Houston Chronicle. January 22, 2015. Retrieved on January 25, 2015.
  13. ^ Schiller, Dane. "Abandoned houses leave ghost town for new Booker T." Houston Chronicle. January 23, 2015. Retrieved on January 25, 2015.
  14. ^ Radcliffe, Jennifer. "Power failure closes Booker T. Washington High School." Houston Chronicle. Friday September 3, 2010. Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  15. ^ "School Uniforms," Texas Education Agency
  16. ^ "Washington High School Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  17. ^ "Burrus Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  18. ^ "Hohl Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  19. ^ "Kennedy Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  20. ^ "Wesley Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  21. ^ "Garden Oaks Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  22. ^ "Highland Heights Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  23. ^ "Osborne Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  24. ^ "Roosevelt Elementary Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  25. ^ "Williams Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  26. ^ "Black Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  27. ^ "Hamilton Middle Attendance Zone." Houston Independent School District.
  28. ^ Signora, Michael (1995-11-18). "Wolverine senior flanker Hayes spices up Michigan's potent aerial assault". Collegian Inc. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  29. ^ "Distinguished HISD Alumni." Houston Independent School District.
  30. ^ Houston Chronicle 12/29/13

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