The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 402 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.

In addition to providing for rudimentary instruction, the free Negroes of the North helped their friends to make possible what we now call higher education.  During the second quarter of the nineteenth century the advanced training of the colored people was almost prohibited by the refusals of academies and colleges to admit persons of African blood.  In consequence of these conditions, the long-put-forth efforts to found Negro colleges began to be crowned with success before the Civil War.  Institutions of the North admitted Negroes later for various reasons.  Some colleges endeavored to prepare them for service in Liberia, while others, proclaiming their conversion to the doctrine of democratic education, opened their doors to all.

The advocates of higher education, however, met with no little opposition.  The concentration in northern communities of the crude fugitives driven from the South necessitated a readjustment of things.  The training of Negroes in any manner whatever was then very unpopular in many parts of the North.  When prejudice, however, lost some of its sting, the friends of the colored people did more than ever for their education.  But in view of the changed conditions most of these philanthropists concluded that the Negroes were very much in need of practical education.  Educators first attempted to provide such training by offering classical and vocational courses in what they called the “manual labor schools.”  When these failed to meet the emergency they advocated actual vocational training.  To make this new system extensive the Negroes freely cooeperated with their benefactors, sharing no small part of the real burden.  They were at the same time paying taxes to support public schools which they could not attend.

This very condition was what enabled the abolitionists to see that they had erred in advocating the establishment of separate schools for Negroes.  At first the segregation of pupils of African blood was, as stated above, intended as a special provision to bring the colored youth into contact with sympathetic teachers, who knew the needs of their students.  When the public schools, however, developed at the expense of the state into a desirable system better equipped than private institutions, the antislavery organizations in many Northern States began to demand that the Negroes be admitted to the public schools.  After extensive discussion certain States of New England finally decided the question in the affirmative, experiencing no great inconvenience from the change.  In most other States of the North, however, separate schools for Negroes did not cease to exist until after the Civil War.  It was the liberated Negroes themselves who, during the Reconstruction, gave the Southern States their first effective system of free public schools.



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The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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