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Booker T. Washington School celebrates 80th anniversary

From STAFF REPORTS

October of 2020 is the 80th Anniversary of the Booker T. Washington School in which the McKinney Center is housed.

To celebrate and honor what this building once was, the McKinney Center has created a video available on the McKinney Center Facebook page and YouTube page. The McKinney Center asks that you take about seven minutes of your time to watch this video to hear the voices of Booker T. Washington Alumni as a way to honor this momentous anniversary and to remember those who fostered a space of education and community for Black families in Jonesborough.

Booker T. Washington opened its doors for African-American school age children from grades 1 through 8 in 1940 and served in this capacity until integration in 1965. This building was the primary education facility for hundreds of African-American students in the community.

The faculty and principles that served here left an educational legacy that continues today. Beginning in 2010, the town purchased the building and began restoring it into a place that would bring people together through the arts. Renovations lasted for several years. In November 2013, the building officially opened as the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School, named in honor of not only Ernest L. McKinney but his entire family, who did so much to serve the people of Jonesborough.

Five years ago, Booker T. Washington Alumni met to celebrate the 75th Anniversary with a dinner, music, and certificate ceremony.

To remain safe, due to COVID-19, the McKinney Center has decided to honor the 80th Anniversary by sharing images and stories from Alumni. The stories and voices you will hear in this video include Sandy Johnson, Debbie Johnson, and Nola Rollins Parks. These interviews come from the Spring of 2014, shortly after the McKinney Center opened, and invited alumni to “come back to school” and tell their stories, which were collected by Jules Corriere and Pam Daniels.

The McKinney Center is grateful that these alumni have shared their memories of Booker T. Washington School with McKinney Center staff. The center hopes to preserve these full audio files so that generations to come will be able to hear about Black history in Jonesborough.