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Early Years and Education

  • The proximity of Anniston to major rivers and railways provided it with ample
                trade routes.
  • Tuskegee’s Band playing at Tuskegee’s 25th Anniversary celebration in 1906.
  • In 1913, the Tuskegee campus had its own train depot.
  • Booker T. Washington.
  • In keeping with Booker T. Washington's philosophy, all Tuskegee students worked
                on campus as part of their education and as a contribution to the school.
  • Among his other activities, Dawson was a student cadet at Tuskegee.
  • Listen as Dawson remembers Tuskegee and Booker T. Washington (3:13 min.).
  • Booker T Washington's memorial on Tuskegee’s campus.
  • Dawson at Tuskegee in uniform with his trombone.
  • William Levi Dawson and the Tuskegee Institute Singers
  • This promotional flyer for the Redpath Chautauqua lists the Tuskegee Singers.
  • Dawson’s 1921 graduation photograph.
  • This historic map of Topeka, Kansas provides a geographical context for where
                Dawson lived and worked.
  • "Forever Thine" demonstrates Dawson’s early compositional skills.
  • Photograph of the orchestra from the Lincoln High School yearbook
  • This Christmas card, sent to Dawson in 1954, features Douglas’s artwork.
  • Dawson’s "Trio in A," which was performed at the Horner Institute of Fine Arts’
                1925 graduation ceremony.
  • This photograph shows the predominantly African American 18th Street area of
                Kansas City, MO, in the 1920s.
  • An original score of "Jump Back."
  • Weidig was a prominent teacher who also taught composer Ruth Crawford Seeger.
  • Dawson’s appointment to the 51st Precinct of the 2nd Ward, April 10, 1928.
  • William Levi Dawson and Cook’s Orchestra.
  • A receipt for the trombone Dawson rented while playing with the Civic Orchestra
                of Chicago.
  • Newspaper clipping about Cornelle Derrick Lampton Dawson
  • Program for the Semi-Finals Century of Progress (World's Fair) Band Concerts
                (Soldier's Field, Chicago, Illinois), 1 September 1929
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Published score for "Forever Thine," 1920

"Forever Thine" demonstrates Dawson’s early compositional skills.

Dawson resigned from Kansas Vocational College at the end of the year and moved to Kansas City, Missouri. There, he self-published his first composition with financial assistance from Captain Alvin J. Neely at Tuskegee in 1922 under the title “Forever Thine.” As summer began, he sold copies door-to-door for 25 cents and set his earnings aside for future schooling. Dawson greeted each customer, introduced himself and his song, and then demonstrated it by singing it (Monroe, 43).