By Adam Fairclough

During this significant project, civil rights historian Adam Fairclough chronicles the odyssey of black academics within the South from emancipation in 1865 to integration 100 years later. No publication formerly has supplied us with the whole tale of what African American lecturers attempted, completed, and did not do in instructing the Southern black inhabitants over this severe century. This magisterial narrative bargains a daring new imaginative and prescient of black lecturers, outfitted from the tales of actual women and men, from lecturers in one-room shacks to professors in purple brick universities. Fairclough explores how lecturers encouraged and encouraged generations of kids, instilling values and information that nourished racial delight and a hope for equality. whilst, he exhibits that they weren't simply educators, but in addition missionaries, politicians, group leaders, and racial diplomats. Black academics needed to negotiate regularly among the white experts who held the handbag strings and the black community's grassroots resistance to segregated criteria and white energy. lecturers have been a part of, but in addition except, the bigger black inhabitants. frequently overlooked, and sometimes lambasted, by means of either whites and blacks, academics have been tireless foot squaddies within the lengthy civil rights fight. regardless of very unlikely odds--discrimination, overlook, occasionally violence--black academics engaged in a chronic and eventually heroic fight to make schooling a way of liberation. a category in their personal is integral for figuring out how blacks and whites interacted and coexisted after the abolition of slavery, and the way black groups built and coped with the demanding situations of freedom and oppression. (20070201)

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Extra info for A Class of Their Own: Black Teachers in the Segregated South

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Ronald Butchart identified fifty-one black New Yorkers (some of them southern-born) who taught in freedmen’s schools during Reconstruction. With an average age of thirty-one, they taught an average of three school terms in the South. Of the twentynine teachers whose occupations could be traced, nineteen had prior teaching experience that averaged seven years. About two-thirds of the teachers were women. Butchart suggests that the black teachers had a stronger sense of commitment to the freedmen’s cause than the more numerous white teachers.

Dependency made teachers vulnerable to manipulation by whites. Politicians expected black teachers to discourage militancy or radicalism. They called upon teachers to “represent” the black community in the expectation that they would toe the line. They asked teachers to be their eyes and ears within the black community, even to act as spies and informers. While teachers could argue that their cautious tactics secured tangible benefits for black schools, and that accommodationism represented constructive racial diplomacy, a growing number of black critics—including not a few teachers—questioned whether the game was worth the candle.

Yet the letters of black teachers were full of complaints about how difficult it was to persuade parents to support schools. Simple poverty meant that many parents could not afford tuition fees. Even when offered free schools, parents often refused to send their children. Black farmers depended upon family labor: the more hands the better. The demands of cotton and tobacco meant that, as under slavery, all but the smallest children worked. Many parents, especially fathers, believed that keeping children home was an economic necessity.

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