TV

How The Gilded Age Season 2 Recreated The Tuskegee Institute 


The Gilded Age season 2 depicts Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Institute, and the beginning of HBCUs.

Denée Benton, Sullivan Jones in The Gilded Age season 2 episode 4.
Photo: Barbara Nitke | HBO

This article contains spoilers for The Gilded Age season 2 episode 5.

The Gilded Age has woven the story of Black New Yorkers into the larger fabric of its depiction of 1880’s society. Season 2 expands on this foundation by also showing a slice of what life was like in the South during the same period. 

Peggy (Denée Benton) is very eager to cover the most important stories of the day for T. Thomas Fortune’s (Sullivan Jones) newspaper. Covering the Red Cross’s relief work last season has also whet her appetite for traveling beyond the city. During season 2 the opportunity to cover a big and meaningful story presents itself when Booker T. Washington offers Peggy and Fortune the opportunity to cover the opening of a new dormitory at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. 

The Tuskegee Institute, now called Tuskegee University, was founded in 1881 just two years before the main plot of the series begins. Tuskegee was one of the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the US (frequently shortened to HBCU) to offer Black students degrees and job training. In the 1880’s, most predominantly white private and public colleges refused to accept Black students regardless of their academic achievements or career interests. 

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