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Tuskegee Institute Founded in 1881, Tuskegee Institute is today Tuskegee University. Booker T. Washington, the Institute’s first president from 1881 until his death in 1915, exercised unprecedented power among African Americans part... Founded in 1881, Tuskegee Institute is today Tuskegee University. Booker T. Washington, the Institute’s first president from 1881 until his death in 1915, exercised unprecedented power among African Americans partly because his plan for black economic improvement without political rights was well funded by wealthy white donors. Called the "Atlanta Compromise," the plan emerged in 1895, stressing the need for practical, industrial training, such as that supplied by Tuskegee Institute, and minimizing the need for black political rights. Show more Show less 1881 2