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Celebrating M Street High School’s Living Legacy 
The M Street Project: A Poster Series


This program has been funded in part by a grant from HumanitiesDC

The Perry School Community Services Center makes its home in an incredible piece of American history - M Street High School. This building served as the first publicly funded high school for African Americans in the United States, yet, its legacy is largely unknown. We are on a mission to change that.


We aim to celebrate M Street's inspiring legacy through this poster series that pairs historic figures from M Street with contemporary leaders who embody similar values of excellence, achievement, and making meaningful contributions to society. We want to pay homage to the past and ignite a spark to encourage a better future.


Posters designed generously and beautifully by Liza Pagano


Click button to download poster files (they will print best at 11x17)

M Street Trailblazers

M Street High School stands as a beacon of empowerment for the first generation of Black Americans, offering a gateway to college and the pursuit of dreams despite formidable challenges. Trailblazers such as Anna Julia Cooper, Carter G. Woodson, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Charles Hamilton Houston, Hilyard Robinson, and Dr. Iona Rollins Whipper shattered racial barriers. These pioneers became firsts in their fields and shaped American history. By honoring their remarkable contributions, we aspire to cultivate a profound sense of pride and inspiration in all Washingtonians.

Driving Change: D.C.'s Contemporary Leaders Igniting Progress

Celebrate some of the District’s present-day leaders who exemplify shared principles of excellence, accomplishment, and meaningful societal impact. As we honor the legacies of the past, we recognize these leaders who ignite a flame that propels us to a brighter future.


STUDIOS' Board Chair and DC-based Principal

Judge Quander alternative photo 1_edited

Retired Senior Administrative Judge and Author


Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Generation Hope

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Professor, Investor, Philanthropist, and Advocate

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Academic, Activist, and Leader

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Associate, Hogan Lovells US

Historic Landmark Site and Tour


Tempestuous Elements

Performed at Arena Stage: February 16 - March 17, 2024


Tempestuous Elements reveals the struggle of educational luminary Anna Julia Cooper as she fights for her students’ rights to an advanced curriculum. In a scandal orchestrated by the government, her tenure as principal of D.C.’s historic M Street School is sabotaged by her colleagues and neighbors leading Cooper's professional and personal relationships to become fodder for innuendo and social ostracization. Witness the journey of this formidable Black feminist’s fight for educational equity, freedom, and legitimacy at the turn of the 20th century.



At Arena Stage, a Hidden DC Figure Comes to Life - Washingtonian

Washington Post article about Anna Julia Cooper

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Education Activities and Lessons

The M Street School

Lesson PDF

With nine lessons and activities this resource is designed to provide awareness, foster understanding, and evoke appreciation for students of the M Street School, which was one of the most prestigious and exceptional African American educational institutions to have ever existed in the United States. Your students will be introduced to some of the many accomplished principals, students, and teachers that were affiliated with the school. Activities in this collection will provoke them to question the similarities and differences between the M Street School and theirs, and to analyze the current state of educational achievement amongst African Americans and their view of urban schools.


Nannie Helen Burroughs

Hidden Washington

A learning guide for Teachers

Nannie Helen Burroughs moved to Washington, D.C. from Virginia for a better education. Excelling at M Street High School under mentor Mary Church Terrell, she graduated with honors in 1896. Denied a teaching job due to her skin color, she was inspired to establish a school that would give all girls, regardless of their race, an opportunity to achieve, uplifting women from low-wage jobs  in a time when African American women faced limited occupation choices. 


Hilyard Robinson

The Archives of African American Architects Digital Collection at Howard University

"The Archives of African American Architects Digital Collection will highlight the work of prominent African Americans in the field of architecture. By making their architectural drawings and prints available they will add to the scholarship and research efforts of those interested in the contributions of African American architects." Currently, the collection holds digitized drawings from projects by Albert CassellHilyard Robinson, and Robert Nash.


Carter G. Woodson

Lesson Plans for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students
To learn more about the life, work, and legacy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, teachers can download lesson plans created by educators and members of the Association for Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH), Dr. La Vonne I. Neal and Dr. Sarah Militz-Frielink.


The purpose of the elementary and secondary learning series is to give students an opportunity to investigate the importance of collecting, preserving, and teaching the history of diverse people and cultures, especially African Americans. At the end of the multi-week units, students will be able to investigate multiple perspectives across many content areas about African American history—connecting to museum collections, primary documents, and historical places related to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, ASALH, and his mentees. Students will be able to design, engage with, and present products that display an accurate portrayal of historical people, places, and collections.

Both series include: (1) adaptations for students with disabilities, (2) the District of Columbia Social Studies Standards, (3) the National Council for Social Studies Standards, (4) Embedded Technology Standards, (5) Common Core State Standards for Reading Informational Text, and (6) Common Core Standards for Math.

Neal and Militz-Frielink NPS Elem Learning Series

Neal and Militz-Frielink NPS M.S.and H.S. Learning Series

Charles Hamilton Houston

This WNET lesson examines the changing legal status of African Americans after slavery, the political violence that accompanied that change, and the legal challenges to Jim Crow. This lesson examines the changing legal status of African Americans, the political violence that accompanied that change, and the legal challenge to Jim Crow undertaken by the NAACP and the individuals shown in the PBS series The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.

Charles Hamilton Houston: Laying the Groundwork for Integration

Charles Hamilton Houston, former dean of Howard University’s law school and chief legal counsel for the NAACP, believed…

WNET |Grades 9-12

Charles Hamilton Houston and His Legal Challenge Against Jim Crow

This video segment from The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow begins by discussing Walter White’s struggle for an anti-lynching bill in…

WNET |Grades 9-12

The Realities of Separate But Equal | The African Americans

Explore how Charles Hamilton Houston and Victor Hugo Green fought for equality for African Americans in this video from The…

WNET |Grades 9-12


Anna Julia Cooper

Is This Your Grandmother’s Fight? Black Women and the Politics of Respectability and Resistance

This curriculum is a resource for educators interested in teaching and learning about Anna Julia Cooper (August 10, 1858 – February 27, 1964): educator, sociologist, author, theorist and activist. The Colored Conventions Project Curriculum Team was created to provide a resource for educators to participate in the Frederick Douglass Day events planned by the Colored Conventions Project. This year the focus of our annual celebration on the life and legacy of Douglass will also center the work and life of Anna Julia Cooper. This curriculum explores Cooper and the ways she implemented and refined the use of the Politics of Respectability in her work for Black education, freedom, and racial uplift. 


Iona Rollins Whipper


Ionia Rollin Whipper, 1872- 1953- As a physician and public health reformer, Ionia Rollin Whipper was one of the few African American obstetricians in Washington, D.C. in the early 1900s. After discovering some of the shockingly unsanitary conditions in which young, impoverished mothers were forced to live, Whipper traveled throughout the South during the first World War to educate African American mothers and midwives about public health and hygiene. Whipper devoted most of her career to either teaching or founding organizations to improve the lives of low-income Black women in Washington.

Ionia Rollin Whipper, Obstetrician born

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