The original McKinley Senior High School Building, now the McKinley Alumni Association Center, is located at 1520 Thomas Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge Louisiana. This original building (the Center) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1981. The history that enabled this structure to be listed on the register is as follows: McKinley Senior High School is the oldest high school established for African Americans in East Baton Rouge Parish and the State of Louisiana.
The forerunner of McKinley Senior High, was named the Hickory Street School, which was located several blocks east of the Center, on Hickory Street in 1906-1908. This great institution started in an old wooden building under the leadership of Dr. J.M. Frazier, Sr. The Hickory Street School was renamed The Baton Rouge Colored High School and moved to a new location circa 1909 after the Hickory Street site outgrew the old wooden building. The new school, Baton Rouge Colored High School was located on the corner of Perkins Rd. and Bynum St, and remained under the leadership of Dr. Frazier. Baton Rouge Colored High School’s first graduating class was in 1916. The four students (Hattie Thomas, Maggie Turnsill, Inez Baranco and Olivia Algiers), became the first African American high school graduates in Louisiana. The Perkins Road facility was struck by lightning and destroyed in the 1920’s. High School classes continued in various locations in the Baton Rouge area until 1927. In 1926 the Baton Rouge Colored High School building was erected at 1520 Thomas Delpit Drive, Baton Rouge Louisiana and re-named in honor of the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley. The re-named, original McKinley High School, was built was and is currently located on the corner of Louise Street and East Boulevard (Renamed Thomas Delpit Drive).
The (Delpit Drive) school started classes on September 19, 1927. A new McKinley High School was built in 1950 on McCalop Street, next to the present day I-10. The Thomas H. Delpit Dr. facility remained McKinley Elementary School. The McCalop Street school functioned as McKinley Junior and Senior High School until 1961. In 1961, the third and present day McKinley Senior High School was built at 800 East McKinley Street. The McKinley Street School housed the Senior High Students only. The Junior High School remained at the McCalop Street/I-10 site, and the Thomas H. Delpit Dr. site remained McKinley Elementary. The original McKinley Senior High School (Center) facility on Thomas H. Delpit Dr. closed as an Elementary School and housed a Head Start Program in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This original red brick building was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1981. The This original structure was purchased by the McKinley Alumni Association from the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on February 5, 1992. That original McKinley High School building, on Thomas Delpit Drive was destroyed by fire on July 3, 1998 and rebuilt between 2000 and 2006. That building reopened as the current Alumni Association Community Center. The McKinley High School Alumni Center’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on April 9, 2006. The building has served as a community center and office building since that date.
A Moment to Remember
On January 14, 2016, President Barack Obama visited McKinley High on McKinley street. This was the first time a sitting president had hosted a town hall meeting at a secondary school in Louisiana.
McKinley High School Principals
Donnie Ray Albert – Grammy Award-winning opera performer (Porgy and Bess)
Jason Banks – Pro football player for the Arizona Cardinals
Hubert ‘Rap’ Brown – Prominent radical leader of the 1960s – author of Die Nigger Die!. Attended McKinley.
Isiah Carey– Emmy award-winning television journalist with KRIV Houston
Don Chaney – Former NBA great (Boston Celtics) and former head coach of New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Detroit Pistons.
Lil Boosie – Rapper. Attended McKinley.
Kevin Gates – Rapper; Owns Bread Winner Association (BWA); Attended McKinley
Cleo Fields – Louisiana State Senator and former United States Congressman
Tommie Green – Former NBA player and former collegiate head basketball coach
John Michael Guidry – Louisiana appellate court judge from Baton Rouge
Buddy Guy—Legendary five-time Grammy Award winning blues guitarist whom Eric Clapton and many music critics have called the greatest blues guitarist alive.
Edward C. James – state representative/ District 10 in East BR Parish since 2012
Chris Thomas King – Grammy award-winning blues artist/actor (O Brother Where Art Thou?)
Chenese Lewis – Actress & plus-size model
Joseph A. Delpit – first Black Baton Rouge City Councilman, former State legislator, proprietor of Chicken Shack Restaurants
Jerome Meyinsse – Current pro basketball player and 2 time All-Star in the Brazil Professional League with team Flamengo. Played college at University of Virginia.
Calvin Nicholas – Former wide receiver for San Francisco 49ers
Jewel Joseph Newman (Class of 1941), black city council member from Baton Rouge, 1972 to 1984; member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1984 to 1988; community organizer from the Scotlandville area
Eddie G. Robinson – Hall of Fame former Grambling State University Football Coach
Keith Smart – Former Indiana basketball player, one-time head coach of Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings. Current Assistant Coach of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies
Gardner C. Taylor—Pastor Emeritus of famous Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. Noted theologian, scholar, and teacher (Harvard and Yale), recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom. Named America’s Greatest Black Preacher (Ebony Magazine)
Gardner C. Taylor —Pastor Emeritus – Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. Noted theologian, scholar, and teacher (Harvard and Yale), recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom. Named America’s Greatest Black Preacher (Ebony Magazine, 1993)
Tyrus Thomas – Former LSU basketball player, now playing for the Charlotte Bobcats
Nemiah Wilson—Former All-pro defensive back and kick returner with Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders 1965-75
Joe Williams – American football player