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|Tulsa Booker T. Washington High School was founded in 1913 with an enrollment of fourteen students and a staff of two teachers during the time of segregation. Booker T. Washington High School (aka "The T") is a magnet high school which serves the entire city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. A magnet school by the way is a voluntarily race-integrated school, which at the time of formation of Tulsa's BTW High School, was experimental and thought of as a better alternative than forced busing, which was the cause of many riots soon after this was instituted by the Supreme Court to racially integrate schools. Read about the history of Booker Taliaferro Washington, a great man, educator and activist.|
Washington maintains a student body of around 1,200 students and was changed into a magnet school in 1973 in order to satisfy a federal court mandate to desegregate the school district (read: the court was going to order Tulsa to start busing). Students were "recruited" to attend with a 50/50 black-white/other ratio from all socio-economic backgrounds, as were highly regarded instructors from all over the Tulsa public school system.
Today, over thirty years later, there is a long waiting list of applicants who wish to attend the school based on its reputation as the best public high school in Tulsa, in the entire state and perhaps in the entire country. Acceptance is based on grades, test scores, recommendations and community service. The standard of excellence continues with a dedicated staff, gifted students and a supportive community. BTW is well known not only for its academic excellence and achievements in the fine arts but also the success of its athletic teams. The Booker T. Washington Hornets have a great sports tradition and annual contenders for state championships in a variety of sports, including Americanfootball and basketball, and when I was there dominated wrestling and were also strong in track. Baseball was where we were always weak, except for 1977, the first season the school went to the state tournament, but has seen much improvement under the coaching of current head coach John Potocnik who has taken the team to the state tournament numerous times.
Some interesting courses offered include a variety of foreign languages including Latin, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, mountaineering (no longer offered), TV/radio/film production and a number of college-preparatory courses with emphasis placed on math and English. Of course when you mix groups of people from all walks of life it is certain not everyone will become friends but the school is a fine testament of how man/woman regardless of colour, ethnicity, religion, etc. can live in harmony as God intended.
It's funny how one generation can go through such an societal upheaval especially in light of how I, as a person of multiethnicities, had a completely different experience as a child from my late father. My father, who is Cajun, Scots-Irish, German, Dutch & Scottish with a tab bit of Cherokee, was born in Arkansas during the time of segregation and attended completely white schools. During the time of my father's upbringing, people were taught that black and white folks should be separated not only in schools but churches, neighborhoods and in almost aspects of society. In this light it is NOT surprising to learn that people were suspicious of each other and held a lot of untrue and idiotic beliefs which were harmful to racial tolerance. I say this with emphasis that these beliefs were mostly held by the majority segment of the population which had the economic and social power to change this around...
I, on the other hand, because of circumstances related to the neighborhood in which my older brother and I were raised, were exposed to and befriended people of all colours. Why shouldn't we be more open-minded in this sense, our mother is Japanese, making us an absolute ethnic hodge-podge?! While we were exposed to racist thought through some of our friends and peers, relatives, society and other channels, we came to realize through our positive experiences growing up with Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the majority-minority Euro-ethnic peoples that there are good and bad elements in every ethnic group and if we limit ourselves to one segment we are TRULY missing out on some fantastic opportunities, friendships and differences which make life interesting. I love the flavor every ethnic group brings to the table, be it different fashion, music, sense of humor, food, or physical appearance. This is the greatest thing about the United States. Maybe you are one of those too busy hating to realize this...
The world gets smaller by the day and yet ethnic strife continues under the guise of religious wars, territorial and ethnic disputes, and even by people living in fear and ignorance in the good ole U.S. of A. Free your mind and hopefully the rest will follow. The opposite of love is fear, fear God not only because this is the beginning of wisdom but also because under our "coat of paint" lies a heart whose colour is the same for people of all ethnicities, creeds, religions, and backgrounds.
My prayer to the world is that we will try to love each other because of our differences not try to kill each other!