2. Textile High School
Starting in 1924, Billy was enrolled at the Textile High School, a progressive new trade school in the New York City public school system at 343 West 18th Street in Chelsea, between 8th and 9th avenues. The Principal, William Henry Dooley, was a Harvard and Columbia University-educated educator, modeling his feeder school for the city’s garment industry after visiting the mill towns of Lowell, Massachusetts and garment trade schools in Europe. The Garment District was bustling back then, with plenty of work for potential graduates.
Billy majored in interior decoration, as his father intended for his son to attend college and then join him in the family business. The curious and bright teenager had average grades, but it was clear he was “suited more for gestalt experience than for traditional education,” Shapiro writes. Still, the diversity of the Textile High School certainly suited Billy. Several of his friends were black women who held leadership positions in the school.
Today, the building that housed the Textile High School, though the school, which had many different names over the years, is closed. It was most recently known as the Bayard Rustin Education Complex until 2011.
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