This tour explores the rich history of M Street High School, a historic landmark at 128 M Street NW, and how this leading school’s administration, faculty and students shaped DC. M Street High School, which operated between 1891 and 1916, before relocating to the newly constructed Dunbar High School, served as a crucible of knowledge and inspiration for influential figures in African American and American history.
On this journey through DC, explore connections to the school's trailblazers: Carter G. Woodson, the renowned Father of Black History Month who discovered inspiration within the classrooms of M Street High School. Among its esteemed alumni: Nannie Helen Burroughs, a graduate of M Street, emerged as a tireless advocate for civil and women’s rights, establishing the National Training School for Women and Girls; Charles Hamilton Houston, M Street's valedictorian at the remarkable age of 15, became a pivotal figure in the fight for civil rights, earning the moniker "The Man Who Killed Jim Crow;" and Anna Julia Cooper, a faculty member turned M Street principal, etched her legacy as an influential author, educator, and Black liberation activist. Distinguished alumni also include Hilyard Robinson, a pioneering architect, who graduated from M Street.
The faculty featured notable figures, such as Mary Church Terrell, a fervent advocate against racial segregation and for women’s suffrage, and her husband Robert Terrell, who ascended to the role of the school's principal. Mary was a founding member of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), while Robert went on to become one of the District's first Black Justice of the Peace, appointed by President William Howard Taft in 1911. These remarkable individuals, alongside medical trailblazer Iona Rollins Whipper and other notable alumni, continue to weave a rich tapestry into M Street's enduring legacy.
M Street High School inspired ideas that challenged societal norms and shaped discourse on equality and justice. Today, the Perry School Community Services Center, housed in the historic building that once served as M Street High School, carries on the school’s legacy, ensuring that the spirit of excellence fostered by M Street High School thrives and continues into the future.