In honor of Black History Month, we took a look at education for Black people in the United States. We started with the educational journals of the father of Black History, Dr. Carter G. Woodson with The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (published 1915) to the Mis-education of the Negro (published 1933). “Mis-education criticizes the system, and explains the vicious circle that results from mis-educated individuals graduating, then proceeding to teach and mis-educate others. Woodson’s particular concern with the black youth because he recognized that it was with, the boys and girls that mis-education began, later crystallizing into deep-seated insecurities, intra-racial cleavages, and interracial antagonisms.”
Then we reflected on the fight for equality in education with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which established separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. As we move forward, we know this was a slow process and even slower in its progress. Brown was decided on in 1954 that there had to be a second Brown case in 1955 that pressured the school system to desegregate with deliberate speed. And even after that it wasn’t until 1960 that most schools went through a “desegregation crisis” and students like Ruby Bridges were let into white schools by force. Interestingly, today schools are more segregated than in the 60s. In the last few decades, there is no doubt about the correlation between poverty and race, and the ability to be educated in public schools is still very much UNEQUAL.
As we embark on our send a Scholar to College campaign, we took a look at the college system historically for Black people. For example, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were established to serve the educational needs of Black Americans in a time when the country was ambivalent about providing any level of education for the descendants of enslaved African peoples. Once established, there was ambivalence about the real purpose and, consequently, the curriculum and future of these institutions. Over a span of 165 years, the HBCUs, not without great difficulty, have not only survived the many challenges to their very existence, but have finally succeeded in finding ways to serve their mission to the Black American and to all Americans.
We look at the history of education in the US in this light because 81% of our Baltimore scholars are black. And we have to ask ourselves, how do we continue to serve our scholars with excellence despite the barriers that continue to stand in their way? We remember the “Why”! We are saddened by recent data showing that 9 out of 10 black boys are not reading on level in Baltimore City Public School Systems. Make no mistake that the HOW often seems insurmountable, but what we know is that it will take the entire community to come together to break down barriers and create opportunities for young people in Baltimore. The time is now to add to the legacy of education in America. Join us as we create opportunities for our scholars for high school, college and beyond. Donate today!