Tulsa’s black high school during the era of segregation, Booker T. Washington traces its storied history to 1913, when it opened with founding principal Ellis Walker Woods at the helm.
Woods, principal until 1948, established BTW as a place of high expectations, and used segregation to his students’ advantage, shielding them from an often unfriendly white society, while instilling in them a sense of self-worth.
Officially, Tulsa schools desegregated in 1955. But in practice, they remained segregated until the early 1970s.
BTW was established as a magnet school, and continues to this day to reflect Woods’ high standards, ranking consistently as one of the top schools in the nation.