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Tuskegee, Alabama
The Macon County Courthouse in Tuskegee was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1987.
The Macon County Courthouse in Tuskegee was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1987.
Thou Pride of the Swift Growing South
Location in Macon County, Alabama
Location in Macon County, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama is located in the United States
Tuskegee, Alabama
Tuskegee, Alabama
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Alabama
County Macon
 • Total 17.33 sq mi (44.89 km2)
 • Land 17.06 sq mi (44.19 km2)
 • Water 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2)
463 ft (141 m)
 • Total 9,395
 • Density 550.7/sq mi (212.63/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
36083, 36087, 36088
Area code(s) 334
FIPS code 01-77304
GNIS feature ID 0128211

Tuskegee is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. It was founded and laid out in 1833 by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, a Creek War veteran under Andrew Jackson, and made the county seat that year. It was incorporated in 1843. It is the largest city in Macon County. At the 2020 census the population was 9,395, down from 9,865 in 2010 and 11,846 in 2000.

Tuskegee has been important in African-American history and highly influential in United States history since the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the area was developed for cotton plantations, dependent on enslaved African-American people.

After the war, many freedmen continued to work on plantations in the rural area, which was devoted to agriculture, primarily cotton as a commodity crop. In 1881 the Tuskegee Normal School (now Tuskegee University, a historically black college) was founded by Lewis Adams, a former slave whose father, Jesse Adams, a white slave owner, had allowed him to be educated. Its first founding principal was Booker T. Washington, who developed a national reputation and philanthropic network to support education of freedmen and their children.

In 1923, the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center was established, initially for the estimated 300,000 African-American veterans of World War I in the South, when public facilities were racially segregated. Twenty-seven buildings were constructed on the 464-acre campus.

The city was the subject of a civil rights case, Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960), in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature had violated the Fifteenth Amendment in 1957 by gerrymandering city boundaries as a 28-sided figure that excluded nearly all black voters and residents, and none of the white voters or residents. The city's boundaries were restored in 1961 after the ruling.


The area was settled by European Americans in the 1830s after the Creek Native American tribes had been removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Pioneer planters brought or purchased African-American slaves to develop the rich soil for cotton plantations, as short-staple cotton was the chief commodity crop through the 19th century. Invention of the cotton gin at the end of the 18th century meant that this type of cotton could be processed profitably and it was adaptable to the upland areas. Designated as the county seat of rural Macon County, Tuskegee developed as its only city.

In 1881, the young Booker T. Washington was hired to develop the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers on the grounds of a former plantation. It was founded to train teachers for the segregated school system and freedmen for self-sufficiency. Washington established a work-study program by which students practiced skills and trades. Over the decades, the programs were expanded. This was later named the Tuskegee Institute. Graduate courses were added and it became Tuskegee University. Washington was known for his emphasis on education and self-improvement. The institute became known for stressing a practical education with work experience by students, to prepare them for the work available in the small towns and rural areas to which most would return. Teaching was a highly respected calling, as education was a major goal among the freedmen and their children. Washington believed that African Americans would achieve acceptance by southern whites when they had raised themselves.

Washington led the school for decades, building a wide national network of white industrialist donors among some of the major philanthropists of the era, including George Eastman. At the same time, Washington secretly provided funding to the NAACP for its legal defense of some highly visible civil rights cases, including supporting challenges to southern states' discriminatory constitutions and practices that disenfranchised African Americans. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Washington worked with Julius Rosenwald and architects at the college to develop models for rural schools, to be used with Rosenwald's matching funds to gain construction of more rural schools for black children in the South.

One of the most famous teachers at Tuskegee was George Washington Carver, whose name is synonymous with innovative research into Southern farming methods and the development of hundreds of commercial products derived from regional crops, including peanuts and sweet potatoes.

During World War II, Tuskegee and Tuskegee Institute were also home to the famed Tuskegee Airmen. This was the first squadron of African-American pilots trained in the U.S. Military for service in that war.

The university in the 21st century is a center of excellence for African-American education. The heart of the university has been designated as a National Historic District and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center was opened in 1923, authorized by Congress. A total of 27 buildings were constructed on the 464-acre campus, which provided housing and a hospital to serve the needs of more than 300,000 African-American veterans in the South from World War I. It attracted doctors from top schools, such as Dr. Toussaint Tourgee Tildon, a graduate of Harvard Medical School. He was one of the first six African-American doctors to work at the hospital; as director of the complex for 12 years (1946–1958), he achieved accreditation for a medical residency program at the hospital. He also worked to ensure accessibility for graduates to good medical positions in the federal government. By 1975, the hospital complex had


Tuskegee is located at 32°25′53″N 85°42′24″W / 32.43139°N 85.70667°W / 32.43139; -85.70667 (32.431506, −85.706781).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2), of which 15.5 square miles (40 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (1.53%) is water.


Downtown Tuskegee tells the history of Tuskegee/Macon County from the time of incorporation to the present. It also has a site serving as the Tuskegee Visitor Center. For more information about visiting Tuskegee, stop by the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center.

Some Tuskegee area attractions:

  • Tuskegee University/Tuskegee Institute Historic District [1]
  • Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (including the Oaks and GWC Museum) [2]
  • Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site @ Historic Moton Field [3]
  • City of Tuskegee Historic District
  • The Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center
  • Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, site of protests against 1957 state gerrymandering of the city
  • Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center
  • The Tuskegee Repertory Theatre/Jessie Clinton Arts Center [4]
  • Tuskegee City Lake
  • Tuskegee National Forest [5]
  • Kirks Old Farm Museum
  • Victoryland Greyhound Park[6]


The table at right shows the effects of the state passing a law in 1957 to redefine the city of Tuskegee in a way that excluded nearly all black residents, dramatically reducing the population by 1960. The city and other officials were sued under Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960); the US Supreme Court ruled against the state's action. The city boundaries were reinstituted, as reflected by the dramatic "increase" of population in the city recorded in 1970. The population in 1960, with the restored borders, was 7,240, according to the 1970 U.S. Census. Because of lack of economic opportunities in the largely rural area, both the city and rural county have lost population since the late 20th century.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,563
1880 2,370
1890 1,803 −23.9%
1900 2,170 20.4%
1910 2,803 29.2%
1920 2,475 −11.7%
1930 3,314 33.9%
1940 3,937 18.8%
1950 6,712 70.5%
1960 7,240 7.9%
1970 11,028 52.3%
1980 13,327 20.8%
1990 12,257 −8.0%
2000 11,846 −3.4%
2010 9,865 −16.7%
2020 9,395 −4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 9,865 people, 3,749 households, and 1,956 families residing in the city. The population density was 636.5 people per square mile (246.0/km2). There were 4,624 housing units at an average density of 298.3 per square mile (115.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.8% Black or African American, 1.9% White, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. 1.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,749 households, out of which 21.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 19.0% were married couples living together, 28.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.8% were non-families. 40.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 18.5% under the age of 18, 27.8% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 78.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,251, and the median income for a family was $43,472. Males had a median income of $40,653 versus $26,631 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,471. About 22.2% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.0% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.

2020 census

Tuskegee Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 171 1.82%
Black or African American 8,863 94.34%
Native American 18 0.19%
Asian 59 0.63%
Pacific Islander 4 0.04%
Other/Mixed 174 1.85%
Hispanic or Latino 106 1.13%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 9,395 people, 2,936 households, and 1,470 families residing in the city.


U.S. Route 29 and U.S. Route 80 pass through Tuskegee. State Route 81 goes north from the town. Four miles north up Route 81 is the interchange with Interstate 85.

A short distance beyond I-85 is the hamlet of Chehaw, where Southern Railway passenger trains made stops at the Western Railway of Alabama Depot. Into the mid-1960s both the Southern's Crescent and its Piedmont Limited made stops at the depot. The railway's Crescent was the last train to make stops at the station. The Southern Railway moved the train out in 1970 for a rerouting from an Atlanta-Montgomery-New Orleans itinerary to an Atlanta-Birmingham-New Orleans itinerary.

Notable people

See also

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