Black High Schools of High Quality Prior to Desegregation
Journal of Negro History (Forthcoming)
18 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2020 Last revised: 18 Nov 2021
Date Written: August 23, 2020
This paper supports the claim by Vanessa Siddle Walker that historical studies failed to uncover the resilience of Black high schools under segregation. Census Bureau data from 1960 and other data indicate that, whereas from the 1930s to the 1960s, education for Blacks in rural areas of the South and Border States was poor, in more populated areas, Black-led primary and secondary schools frequently achieved quality out of proportion to the adverse circumstances of the times. A major reason was that Black university graduates were unable to get jobs commensurate with their qualifications in the White establishment. Black schools thereby gained qualified and motivated teachers and administrators who favored liberal arts curricula and showed commitment to preparing students at the highest possible level. This buried chapter of African American education has relevance for current education because it counters widely accepted stereotypes about Black education prior to desegregation and provides insights into educational principles that yielded positive outcomes in trying circumstances.
Keywords: African American history, black education, desegregation, discrimination, high school, Jim Crow
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