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Dr. Garnett C. Wilkinson House, Another Reason Why Our Education was So Great! Lived at 406 U Street, NW

Wilkinson (1874-1969) devoted his life to African American public education in D.C. He taught Latin and mathematics at M Street High School, was Principal of Armstrong Technical High, and—when M Street High relocated in 1916 and changed its name—was the first Principal of Dunbar High School.

But Wilkinson is best remembered for his service as the first Assistant Superintendent of Colored Schools in Washington, a post he held for over 30 years, during segregation. At the time Washington, DC had the reputation of having the best public schools in the nation for African Americans. His leadership was so valued that he postponed retirement at the Board of Education's request three times, finally retiring at the age of 72 in 1951.

Born in Summerville, South Carolina, Wilkinson was the fourth child of James W. Wilkinson, a farmer by his wife, Grace.[5] The family relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1888, with the young Garnet graduating from the M Street High School in 1898. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1902, after which time he returned to Washington as a Latin instructor at the M Street School, teaching there for the next ten years.

On May 26, 1908, Wilkinson earned an LLB from Howard University Law School and later went on to earn his master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Wilkinson then served as principal of the Armstrong Manual Training School from 1912 until 1916, which was followed by his appointment as principal of Dunbar High School (formerly known as M Street School) in Washington, DC, a position he held until 1921. In 1924, he became the assistant superintendent in charge of the colored schools in Washington, DC. Wilkinson served in that capacity until 1954, when schools were integrated due to Brown v. Board of Education, and he became an assistant superintendent within the integrated system.

Wilkinson lived in the LeDroit Park section of Washington, DC and was an honorary member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Two of the Fraternity's founders, Oscar J. Cooper and Frank Coleman, had been students of his at the M Street School. Wilkinson died on June 15, 1969 at the age of ninety.

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