The school was named for one of the greatest Negro educational leaders in the United States, Booker Taliaferro Washington, who was also the organizer of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
When one researches the history of Enid, there were a few schools along the Cherokee Strip. In the fall of 1894, a separate school of Enid was started at Fifth and Broadway for Negro children, with one teacher and an attendance of five students. The first school was held in a tent that was also used by the First Baptist Church for services. The first teacher was Robert Casey, who taught for two terms.
In 1896 a small frame structure purchased by James Yarbrough was erected on East Oklahoma Street. James Yarbrough was employed to teach the school for a one and one-half term. The daily attendance was about twelve students.
Robert Tucker succeeded James Yarbrough in 1898 and remained with the school until he resigned in 1899. The daily attendance was still at about twelve students.
In 1899, Miss Lena (Fough) Sawner, became the teacher and her classes were held in the Grayson Baptist Church. Miss Fough-Sawner taught for two years and her daily attendance was twenty-five.
In the years 1901-1904, D.J. Wallace had charge of the school for three years. He was successful in obtaining the construction of a brick building of four rooms. The approximate cost of the building was $5,000. The building was erected on lots formerly owned by Maston Harris. The enrollment was about forty-five students.
From 1904-1906, E. D. Guy succeeded D. J. Wallace as teacher and remained for two years. During this period the school was made a grade school and Mr. Guy became its first principal. He was assisted by Miss Agnes Riley and Miss Bertha Harding. Miss Harding later became Mr. Guy's wife.
In the years 1906-1920, Henry Backstrom had charge of the school for fourteen years. During this time the high school department was organized and domestic science was offered to the girls for the first time. In the years 1918-1920 the Douglas addition had a school for grades one through eight and the teacher was Lalla M. Johnson.
In 1921, black students from the Douglas addition rode a small school bus across town to the Booker T. Washington school, which was located at 800 South 5th. The Washington school continued as a segregated black high school until the 1959-1960 school years, when Enid schools were integrated.
Today the building is utilized as the Booker T. Washington Community Center of Enid Oklahoma.
The years 1920-1925 Lewis J. Umstead succeeded Henry Backstrom and had charge of the school for five years. During this period the boy's industrial department was started and a frame building was erected under the supervision of William Paxton, while he was vocational teacher. The Booker T. Washington School moved into a new building at 800 W. 5th in 1921. The library was modern in every way and was of brick construction. This was the birth of the modern library and the Booker T. Washington band. Books were donated for the starting of the library by Mrs. Mollie Eskridge, Henry Backstrom, Mrs. Saddie Rowland and the Carnegie Library.
In 1925 William Leroy Lansdown was made principal. In 1926, an addition was added to Booker T. Washington. In 1951, the building was remodeled and again in 1956.
Booker T. Washington Principals
1901-1906 Mr. Guy
1906-1920 Henry Blackstrom
1920-1925 Lewis J. Umstead
1925-1933 William L. Lansdown
1933-1945 W. Mitchell Moore
1945-1952 Floyd King
1952-1961 Luther W. Elliott
Enid Black Heritage, Copyright (e.bh) 2007, all rights reserved