24 december 1968 #techtuesday & mckinley students protest racism @washington post
“We are…a public high school…tired of being discriminated against in the Washington Post.”
Andrea Ross, Tech Life reporter
#OTD-ish 24 December 1968 McKinley Tech HS students protested racism of the white-owned Washington Post (1515 L St NW) in front of its building on 23 March 1969. The Post postponed the #1 ranking for high school football in order to give Dematha, a white school, the opportunity to be #1 instead of McKinley Tech which was already #1. The protest was featured in two articles in the April 1969 issue of Tech Life, the school newspaper.
“For the good of McKinley, the Interhigh, and the inner city, McKinley Tech students formed a picket line in front of the Washington Post. Miss Brenda Strong explained, “The purpose of the picket line was to protest the presumptive rating by the Washington Post. With no guidelines the Washington Post ignored the statistics in placing Dematha No. 1. By postponing the final rating until after the Knights of Columbus Tourney, it seemed the Post was attempting to give ‘The Great White Hope’ a second chance.”
“Many people who have seen or heard the protest might say that we are just sore losers, but we are not losers. We are just a public high school that is tired of being discriminated against in the Washington Post.
Constance Mitchell is in the photo above with a sign stating, “WE’RE TECH & PROUD.” Another student behind Mitchell is carrying a sign stating, “BLACK VS WHITE ? GHETTO VS SUBURB.” Ulysses Hammon and Debra Iverson also participated in the protest. Mrs. Ella Delegall was one of the teachers who participated in the protest.
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, a family member or neighbor participate in the protest? What do you remember about the protest? Were you a student or teacher at Tech? Do you recognize anyone in the photos? Was this McKinley’s first protest against the Washington Post? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy Harry Chow collection. A big thank you to Harry Chow, a McKinley Tech graduate, for sharing this issue with me. Harry has been an incredible archivist and historian. I thank him for holding on to these treasures for over 50 years. I plan to donate this issue and others to the Sumner School Museum & Archives, the official repository of DC Public Schools. I’m hoping others will use these sources to research, write and theorize about DC public schools in a full and complex way.
Andrea Ross, “We Are No. 1,” Tech Life April 1969, p. 1.