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African American Education Historiography

Suggested Books

book cover Education for Liberation

Education for Liberation

Education for Liberation completes the study Dr. Richardson published in 1986 as Christian Reconstruction: The American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890 by continuing the account of the American Missionary Association (AMA) from the end of Reconstruction to the post-World War II era. Even after the optimism of Reconstruction was shattered by violence, fraud, and intimidation and the white South relegated African Americans to segregated and disfranchised second-class citizenship, the AMA never abandoned its claim that blacks were equal in God's sight, that any "backwardness" was the result of circumstance rather than inherent inferiority, and that blacks could and should become equal citizens with other Americans.

Cover of book, education of blacks in the south

The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860-1935

James Anderson critically reinterprets the history of southern black education from Reconstruction to the Great Depression. By placing black schooling within a political, cultural, and economic context, he offers fresh insights into black commitment to education, the peculiar significance of Tuskegee Institute, and the conflicting goals of various philanthropic groups, among other matters. Initially, ex-slaves attempted to create an educational system that would support and extend their emancipation, but their children were pushed into a system of industrial education that presupposed black political and economic subordination.

book cover, schooling the freed people

Schooling the Freed People

Conventional wisdom holds that freedmen's education was largely the work of privileged, single white northern women motivated by evangelical beliefs and abolitionism. Backed by pathbreaking research, Ronald E. Butchart's Schooling the Freed People shatters this notion. The most comprehensive quantitative study of the origins of black education in freedom ever undertaken, this definitive book on freedmen's teachers in the South is an outstanding contribution to social history and our understanding of African American education.

Black Cultural Capital: Activism That Spurred African American High Schools

In the book, Black Cultural Capital: Activism that Spurred African American High Schools, authors describe the role of the Black community in the development of high schools. Their narratives reveal White educators’ unwillingness to implement state laws requiring the education of all children. Their lack of engagement galvanized Blacks to petition boards to adhere to the law. Additionally, they forced school districts to hire Black teachers and provide facilities for Black children equal to those of White children. The fruits of their labor enabled Black children to attend suitable facilities, as well as learn from Black teachers who attended outstanding White and Black colleges and universities.

Encyclopedia of African American Education

The Encyclopedia of African American Education covers educational institutions at every level, from preschool through graduate and professional training, with special attention to historically black and predominantly black colleges and universities. Other entries cover individuals, organizations, associations, and publications that have had a significant impact on African American education. The Encyclopedia also presents information on public policy affecting the education of African Americans, including both court decisions and legislation. It includes a discussion of curriculum, concepts, theories, and alternative models of education, and addresses the topics of gender and sexual orientation, religion, and the media.


Heather Williams demonstrates the centrality of black people to the process of formal education - the establishment of schools, the creation of a cadre of teachers, the forging of standards of literacy and numeracy in the post-emancipation years. As she does, Williams makes the case that the issue of education informed the Reconstruction period - the two-cornered struggle between North and South over the rebuilding of Southern society, the three-cornered struggle between white Northerners, white Southerners, and black people over the nature of education, and the less well known contest between black Northerners and black Southerners over the direction of African American culture. Self-Taught is a work of major significance.'' IRA BERLIN University of Maryland.

The African American Struggle for Secondary Schooling, 1940-1980

Drawing on quantitative datasets, as well as oral history, this compelling narrative examines how African Americans narrowed the racial gap in high school completion. The authors explore regional variations in high school attendance across the United States and how intraracial factors affected attendance within racial groups. They also examine the larger social historical context, such as the national high school revolution, the civil rights movement, campaigns to expand schooling and urging youth to stay in school, and Black migration northward. Closing chapters focus on desegregation and the "urban crisis" of the 1960s and 1970s that accelerated "White flight" and funding problems for urban school systems.

An Architecture of Education

This volume focuses broadly on the history of the social welfare reform work of nineteenth-century African American women who founded industrial and normal schools in the American South. Through their work in architecture and education, these women helped to memorialize the trauma and struggle of black Americans. Author Angel David Nieves tells the story of women such as Elizabeth Evelyn Wright (1872-1906), founder of the Voorhees Industrial School (now Voorhees College) in Denmark, South Carolina, in 1897, who not only promoted a program of race uplift through industrial education but also engaged with many of the pioneering African American architects of the period to design a school and surrounding community. Similarly, Jane (Jennie) Serepta Dean (1848-1913), a former slave, networked with elite Northern white designers to found the Manassas Industrial School in Manassas, Virginia, in 1892. An Architecture of Education examines the work of these women educators and reformers as a form of nascent nation building, noting the ways in which the social and political ideology of race uplift and gendered agency that they embodied was inscribed on the built environment through the design and construction of these model schools.

Walking in Circles

In this examination of the American school system, a career education expert determines how a variety of federal, state, and local policies and initiatives have affected disadvantaged inner-city youth and broadened the achievement gap between black and white students. A work in progress for 20 years, this commentary is built upon a core philosophy that all children can learn but that systematic inequalities have not yet been overcome. Known for her dedication in bringing equal opportunity to underserved children, the author lays the groundwork for future success in improving an imbalanced system.

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