Before The HBCU: Dunbar, Jones And The Black High Schools That Made History

Around the country, there are more than 100 thriving historically Black colleges and universities. Ranging from Morgan State University in Maryland to Wiley College in Texas, there is no shortage of Black success at the collegiate level. With that said, there are a number of institutions at the high school level that are often overlooked. From Pearl High School in Tennessee to Carson High School in California, Black educators and student bodies have been paving the way for future success over the course of several decades. In some cases, history has been building at these high schools for more than a century. While it's impossible to nail down every historically Black high school in one article, here are just a few to remember.

Booker T. Washington High School

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Notable Alumni: Martin Luther King Jr., Lena Horne, Claudette Colvin

It is impossible to talk about Black history in America without paying homage to Atlanta. For decades, Atlanta has been home to some of the best and brightest Black minds in the country. When creating this list, it would be easy to put any one of the dozen high schools in the Black high schools in the area on this list. However, it would be hard not to highlight the historic Booker T. Washington High School. From entertainers to lawmakers, Booker T. Washington High School has produced Black leaders for nearly a century. As noted, Martin Luther King Jr., Claudette Colvin and Lena Horne have walked the halls of Booker T. Washington High School. More recently, Lil' Baby and Young Thug have attended the school.

Dunbar High School

Location: Washington, D.C.

Notable Alumni: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Vernon Davis, Wesley A. Brown

Before there was an Amanda Gorman or even a Maya Angelou, there was a poet by the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, Dunbar made his name as a graduate of Howard University and a prolific writer. In memory of the great poet, a number of institutions have been named Dunbar including the iconic Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. Formerly known as M Street High School, the institution has been home to the likes of the first African-American general officer, Benjamin O. Davis, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Co-Founder, Margaret Flagg Holmes. In recent years, Dunbar High School has welcomed NFL stars Vernon Davis and Vontae Davis.

George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School

Location: New York, New York

Notable Alumni: Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Trevor "Busta Rhymes" Smith Jr., Michael K. Williams

Few high schools have contributed to Hip-Hop culture in the way that George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School. Not only has the school produced Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G and Busta Rhymes, but it has also produced some of the iconic figures that work behind the scenes like Wu Wear CEO Oliver "Power" Grant.

Jones High School

Location: Orlando, Florida

Notable Alumni: Wesley Snipes, Vince Sanders

Jones High School doesn't just produce trailblazers. It's mere existence is groundbreaking. In 1882, the school became the first Black institution in Orange County Florida. More than 125 years later, the school is still thriving and producing leaders like actor Wesley Snipes and National Association of Black Journalists Co-Founder Vince Sanders. Current Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is also a graduate of the historic Jones High School.

“The Jones alumnus have contributed to making the world a better place through science, medicine, business, politics, education, arts, sports, law, humanities and many other endeavors. May our lives bring honor and esteem to ole Jones High forevermore,” Demings said.

Miami Northwestern Senior High School

Location: Miami, Florida

Notable Alumni: Katrina "Trina" Taylor, Amari Cooper, Maurice "Trick Daddy" Young

Miami Northwestern Senior High School is a force to be reckoned with in several areas. Within the realm of sports, the school has earned four 6A state championships and more than a dozen 4A track and field championships. Furthermore, the school has produced NFL stars like Teddy Bridgewater and Amari Cooper. In the world of entertainment, the school has produced legends like Trina and Trick Daddy.

St. Augustine High School

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Notable: Alumni: Leonard Fournette, Elpadaro "Jay Electronica" Electronica Allah, Carl Weathers

If there is a school that can do it all, it is St. Augustine High School. Best known for its world-renowned band, the school has produced journalists, athletes, entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life. The school was even featured in the 1995 film, Passing Glory. Today, the school is proud to call New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Super Bowl LV Champion Leonard Fournette and Grammy nominee Jay Electronica alumni.

Frederick Douglass High School

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Notable Alumni: Thurgood Marshall, Mark "Sisqo" Andrews, Kwesi Mfume

Few public high schools have contributed to American politics in the way that Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland has. For more than a century, the school has produced the likes of U.S. Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall, Rep. Kwesi Mfume and former Rep. Parren Mitchell. Outside of the world of politics, the high school is also home to Cab Calloway and the 90s R&B group Dru Hill.

Mumford High School

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Notable Alumni: Jemele Hill, Fred Hammond, Allee Willis

It is impossible to tell the story of Black American history without making a stop in Detroit. While in Detroit, there are a number of high schools to take a look at, but Mumford High School truly stands out. Whether it be Jemele Hill on ESPN or The Clark Sisters on your favorite gospel album, there is no shortage of Mumford High School's legacy being spread throughout the world.

Centennial High School

Location: Los Angeles, California,

Notable Alumni: Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Arron Afflalo

No school is more responsible for contributing to the sound of west coast hip-hop today quite like Centennial High School. The school is home to Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar as well as NFL Hall of Fame Lineman Larry Allen and UCLA basketball star Arron Afflalo.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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