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A historical look at black education

By Daniel Fields
On March 10, 2016

February is Black History month – an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history, according to However, prior to Reconstruction and the advent of the public school system, few African Americans received any sort of formal education, according to the Virginia Historical Society’s website. At this time most of the 

public schools for African Americans were not only segregated but poorly funded, in both the North and South alike, stated the Virginia Historical Society. Emily Brown, Kirkwood English instructor, added that at all black schools, those of mixed race often faced discrimination as well. The latter half of the 19th century also witnessed the emergence of two distinct philosophies of education within the African American community itself; Booker T. Washington favored 

and research for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also witnessed during his tenure there one of the organization’s fi rst actions to address inequality in education: The NAACP brought suit on behalf of a black student who had been denied admission to the University of Maryland Law School based on the color of his skin, as stated by the Virginia Historical Society.  After Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision which established the legality of segregation in the Jim Crow South, the NAACP primarily fi led suits on behalf of black students who had been denied equal education but in 1950, the NAACP decided that it would only fi le suits aimed at ending segregation altogether, according to the Virginia Historical Society’s website. The site also explained in 1954 the separate but equal doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson was declared unconstitutional in Brown v. the Board of Education, although integration would prove to be a slow and arduous process. 
“uplifting the people” through education, according to the Virginia Historical Society, by providing them with the skills necessary for gainful employment in skilled industrial positions and postponing agitation for racial equality for the time being. On the other hand, W.E.B. Du Bois, the fi rst African American to earn a history degree from Harvard, instead called for an immediate end to racial inequality, according to the Virginia Historical Society. Du Bois, who would later became director of publicity 

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