Booker T. Washington High School (Memphis, Tennessee)

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Booker T. Washington High School
715 South Lauderdale Street
Memphis, Tennessee
Coordinates35°07′40″N 90°02′42″W / 35.127821°N 90.045078°W / 35.127821; -90.045078Coordinates: 35°07′40″N 90°02′42″W / 35.127821°N 90.045078°W / 35.127821; -90.045078
TypePublic secondary
MottoWe're tops! We lead and others follow.
School districtMemphis City Schools
PrincipalAlisha Kiner
Booker T Washington High School Memphis TN 2013-01-12 009.jpg
Eastern facade with main entrance from South Lauderdale Street

Booker T. Washington High School (also known as BTW[1]) is a public secondary school located in South Memphis. Part of the Memphis City Schools, it serves grades 9-12. The school gained national attention when U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the school's 2011 commencement address as a reward for winning the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.


The school was founded as the Clay Street School in 1873 and was among the first public high schools for African Americans in Memphis.[2] It was renamed Kortrecht High School in 1891. In 1926 a new building was constructed and the school was renamed in honor of American educator and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington.[3][4] Further expansions were completed in the years since, including the Blair T. Hunt Gymnasium, dedicated in 1950.[5]

Race to the Top[edit]

The school entered and won the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, a competition that "invites public high schools across the country to demonstrate how their school best prepares [students] for college and a career."[6] Among the required application materials were student essays and videos that demonstrated the school's innovation in education. The accomplishments of the school included increasing graduation rates from 55% in 2007 to 82% in 2010 through the use of same-gender freshman classrooms and increased teacher effectiveness.[7] BTW also suffered from and overcame high teen pregnancy and violence rates.[8] The school beat out more than 450 other applicant schools, and as a reward for this achievement, President Barack Obama delivered the school's 2011 commencement speech.[8][9]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (May 17, 2011). "Barack Obama gives keynote address at Memphis high school, views flood damage, and meets NCAA champs". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Early Black Education in Memphis". Booker T. Washington Class of 1966. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  3. ^ "Kortrecht High School Historic Items and Photos". Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Kuhnhenn, Jim (May 17, 2011). "Obama hails high school graduates in Memphis". Associated Press. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  5. ^ "BOOKER T. WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL: THROUGH THE YEARS". The Commercial Appeal. Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge". White House. Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  7. ^ Holland, Sally. "President visits Memphis High School graduation". Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b Holland, Sally (May 9, 2011). "3 high schools vie to get Obama for commencement". Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  9. ^ "President Obama at Booker T. Washington High: Commencement Challenge Winners". The White House Blog. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  10. ^ Brisbane, Arthur S. (April 26, 1987). "Marion Barry Just Wants to Be Loved". The Washington Post. p. W20. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Verdell Mathis". Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 2006. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  12. ^ "Maxine A. Smith NAACP Collection". Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 2016-12-07.
  13. ^

External links[edit]