Booker T. Washington High School Celebrates School Namesake and Oldest Living Graduate

Ruby Lea Pope is recognized during a April 5 celebration at Booker T. Washington High School honoring the birthday of its namesake. Pope, one of HISD's oldest living alumna, will turn 104 years old on April 9.

Students and staff at Booker T. Washington High School gathered for a special school assembly on April 5 to celebrate the life and legacy of the school’s namesake, along with a living legend—Ms. Ruby Lea Pope. Pope is 103 years old and is the school’s oldest living graduate. In her lifetime, Pope has traveled to Europe and the Middle East, earned two college degrees, founded an area chapter of a sorority, worked with the city to get safety measures installed near schools and still found a way to teach in Houston ISD for 24 years.

“She really inspires our students to not only graduate, but to serve their community as well,” said Washington Principal LaShonda Bilbo-Ervin. “Ms. Pope lets our students know that the legacy of Booker T. Washington goes beyond the walls of this high school and it is truly worth sharing with others.”

See more photos of Ruby Lea Pope and some documents from her past.

Pope was presented with a plaque, a school letterman jacket and a dozen roses. When asked what she thought about all the attention, she giggled and said, “I’m kind of used to it at this age, but I love every minute of it.” (To read more about Pope, check out this week’s edition of e-news.)

Ruby Lea Pope, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in 1930, was part of a celebration at her alma mater honoring its namesake. Pope will turn 104 years old on April 9.

In addition to Pope’s visit, students listened to various speakers regarding character education and legacy building. They also learned more about their school’s namesake, who was a former slave who went on to become an educator, author, orator, and advisor to several presidents.