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Tuskegee: Washington’s Monument

July 2024
1min read

The Lincoln Gate, above, had just been completed by its student builders when Frances Benjamin Johnston came to Tuskegee in 1902 to make a photographic record of Booker T. Washington’s famous school. The institute, just twenty-one years old, had reached an impressive majority. Already, hundreds of its alumni were proving throughout the South what Washington believed-that the educated Negro could function with energy and self-reliance, even in the white man’s world. Miss Johnston was a well-known photographer and was singularly suited for this assignment. A meticulous craftsman, she was also apparently, fearless. Shoe previously had covered accidents and has descended into mines to get pictures and while she was on the Tuskegee assinment, shots were fired at her Negro guide. Miss Johnston’s reaction was one of indination, and she resolved to see that the sniper was punished. That “[she] will succeed I have no doubt.” Booker Washington’s secretary reported to him. The calm, composed pictures she was there the campus was in more than its usual hurry of building, Students were working on eleven news structures, and she must have shot her pictures carefully to exclude the piles of lumber and brick that dotted the school grounds. The tidy busyness that she recorded, however, was altogether typical. On the next eight pages. AMERICAN HERITAGE reproduces a group of her memorable photographs, taken from the extensive Johnston collection now housed in the Library of Congress.

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