There have been protests against the plans to demolish Booker T Washington, as it is one of the oldest and largest New Orleans High Schools. The opening in 1942 of Booker T., as it is commonly known, was cause for celebration in New Orleans’ large African-American population. Booker T., located next to the Calliope Projects, was a first in the city: a state-of-the-art facility built specifically for African-American education. Forty years earlier, the New Orleans School Board had vowed to limit black education to the fifth grade, and now Booker T. stood as an important accomplishment: a learning facility that rivaled even the best white high schools. Attached to the school is a beautiful auditorium with a stage that has been graced by legends such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Dizzie Gillespie, Mahalia Jackson and Louis Armstrong.
Buildings and places like Booker T., especially those that have created so many memories, are alive. Even though it has been abandoned since Hurricane Katrina, it still holds an immense amount of energy from the 63 years it was full of students and teachers. Tens of thousands of teenagers have walked through the hallways, learned in the classrooms and sat in the massive auditorium. The walls have seen laughs, cries, friendship and fights; they have watched children learn valuable life lessons and witnessed their growth into adults.
The mural [in the above video] is a depiction of the eye of Booker T. Washington High School. It represents the life of the building through my eyes. This amazing place is in its dying days. It will soon be consumed by giant wrecking balls and will be reduced to a pile of bricks and wood. The only thing that will be left of Booker T., will be the countless memories that its former students and teachers hold. This video is a testament to the life of an important piece of New Orleans’ history, a history that needs to live on long after Booker T. is gone.