High School Athletics

Dunbar High football team, including Charles Drew

Drew went to the presigous Dunbar High School in DC.

Washington-Lee would not open for several years, and it would be even longer before Arlington got a Black high school. For this reason, Black students who went as far as high school would go into the District, to one of DC's two Black High Schools, Dunbar or the Armstrong Manual Training School. (Duke Ellington, who was four years older than Drew, would have just finished at Armstrong when Drew began at Dunbar.)

Charles Drew with the rest of the Dunbar High basketball team

Named after acclaimed Black poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Dunbar High School was known for its rigorous academics, and widely regarded as one of the best Black preparatory schools in the country. Historian Rayford W. Logan would describe Dunbar as "one of the best high schools in the nation, colored or white, public or private." Students were expected to learn Latin and Greek, and many of the teachers were educated at top colleges, many even posessing doctorates in their fields.

While Drew did well enough in school, however, his real passion was for sports. He lettered in four different sports in high school, and twice won the James E. Walker Medal for all-around athletic performance. During his senior year, he would win an athletic scholarship to Amherst College.

Early Life
High School Athletics