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History of the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial

Here at the Ellis Walker Woods Memorial, we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making the world a better place for all. Our long pursuit to honor Principal Woods is reflected beyond the granite pillars of the memorial to all the lives honorably led that were influenced by this amazing man. We strive to build productive relationships and make a positive impact with all of our pursuits.

Here's what we started with: ​

"Mr. Woods would say, `You're as good as 90 percent of the people around here and better than the remaining the 10 percent."

Black students hearing messages of self-worth at Booker T. Washington High School learned to believe in themselves, Al Dunn said. About twenty years ago, Dunn, a 1948 Washington graduate, started serving as chairman of a committee to establish a memorial in Ellis Walker Woods' honor. The school Woods built, Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is today recognized as one of the best high schools in the country. ​

Woods' expectations of students and teachers at Washington were high, "...and it shows in the way they talk and carry themselves today," according to Omer Gillham, a Tulsa World Writer who interviewed Dunn and others on the committee in 2001. Al Dunn passed away a few years ago, but the memorial committee has continued to function with Mrs. Captola Dunn as ​chairperson. Taking up the cause hasn't always been easy, but "Cap," as she is known to her dear friends, is indomitable. One of the truly remarkable things about Cap and her fellow alumni is that they are now the elder statesmen and women of Tulsa--they sit on committees and boards of organizations that once wouldn't have let them in the (front) door because of their color. The historian John Hope Franklin is another notable graduate whose son, John W. Franklin, is now a senior manager at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC.