This week, Black History Fun Fact Friday is going live!
Join me and host Stephanie Renee on The Source, WURD Radio this Friday, August 24th @ 10:25a EST. I’ll be discussing my Black History Fun Fact Friday article series (which is returning soon with some new fun facts, find previous articles right here on the blog. Click here) and the Legacy of Dunbar, the first Black Public High School in the United States. The Source airs on WURD Radio, 96.1FM and 900AM in Philadelphia or online at http://www.WURDRadio.com. You can also download the free app @ WURD Radio. Chat soon! @onWURD #onWURD #Onward #EachOneTeachOne #educhat
Welcome back to Black History Fun Fact Friday. Today, we learn about Lucy Craft Laney.
Lucy Craft Laney was a famous educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She opened her own school in 1883, which became known as Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia where she served as teacher and principle for 50 years.
Laney was born on April 13, 1854, one of ten children, to Louisa and David Laney. Laney was not enslaved as David Laney purchased his freedom twenty years before Laney’s birth and then purchased his wife’s freedom sometime after their marriage. Laney was taught to read by her mother at the early age of four. By 12 Laney could translate passages in Latin. She attended Lewis (later Ballard) High School in Macon, GA which was sponsored by the American Missionary Association.
Laney prepared to be a teacher at Atlanta University in 1889 (later Clark Atlanta University), graduating from the Normal Department (teacher’s training) in 1873.
Laney’s school started out small with just a handful of students. She began her school in 1883 in Augusta. Her school was chartered by the state three years later and named the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. Originally, Laney intended to admit only girls, but several boys appeared and she could not turn them away. By the end of the second year, there were more than 200 Black students enrolled in Laney’s school.
Over the years, Laney made many improvements and additions to the school. In the 1890s, the school was one of the first to offer kindergarten classes for African-American children in the South. She also opened a training center so that black women could train as nurses. The school’s curriculum provided the students with traditional liberal arts courses as well as vocational programs, which was groundbreaking at the time, but that’s not all. Laney’s school also acted as a cultural center for the Black community, hosting lectures by nationally famous guests, and various social events.
YO! AUTHORS! Check it out. This is what I mean by attending FREE online webinars and conferences to aid in your education when you cannot afford to pay for a live one. This is a FREE, online global conference for authors, run fringe to the major book fairs: London, BEA & Frankfurt Bookfairs, broadcasting 24 sessions of author education over 24 continuous hours, so that authors around the world attend some live sessions, no matter where they’re located.
This is a FREE, online global conference for authors, run fringe to the major book fairs: London, BEA & Frankfurt Bookfairs, broadcasting 24 sessions of author education over 24 continuous hours, so that authors around the world attend some live sessions, no matter where they’re located. There are also competitions, giveaways and discounts, contributed by sponsors.
The folks at ALLi have pulled together some of the top advisors on the indie author scene to bring you the most up-to-date self-publishing education and information available. Here’s the link to the Indie Author Fringe Speaker Page where you can see the speakers and topics lined up for the March 18th event, fringe to the London Book Fair.
ALLi’s commitment to excellence and inclusiveness has set the stage for one of the most significant global online gathering of authors and author-services…
That’s right, Rachel is giving me the keys to the house (I hope she has coffee??!). My topic of discussion is on the education of blacks in America and how reading and literature came to be such an important part of the learning process in the transition from slavery to freedom.
In 1870, the first Black public High School opened in Washington, D.C. or rather, the first recorded school (Aside from Tuskegee Institute–one of the first schools for African Americans financially sponsored by Blacks and Whites but headed by a Black President, the late Booker T. Washington–I do not believe Dunbar was the first High School just as Rosa Parks was not the first to refuse to give up her seat on a bus (LEARN MORE HERE) there is a lot of things that just aren’t recorded.)
The Preparatory High School for Colored Youth (renamed in 1916 to M Street Public School when its location was changed from M Street), was founded in the basement of Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church by William Syphak, the first chair of the Board of Trustees of the Colored Public Schools in the District of Columbia. According to Dr. Thomas Sowell in an article (100 Years After Dunbar) in 1899, when it was called “the M Street School,” a test was given in Washington’s four academic public high schools, three white and one Black. The Black High School scored higher than two of the three white High Schools. Of course, this isn’t about color or race but is used as an example to highlight the success of all Black Schooling at that time.
Blacks during Segregation were more unified considering many of us had to stick together in order to build communities and schools. For this reason, many all-Black communities, as well as all Black schools, did well. There was a communal spirit among blacks during segregation that sadly deteriorated once we were capable of going outside of ourselves.
Before Brown vs. Board of Education, Dunbar acquired only the best teachers, many of them with Ph.Ds. and graduated 80% of its students. Among its students: the architect of school desegregation, Charles Hamilton Houston, Elizabeth Catlett, the artist, Billy Taylor, the jazz musician, the first Black general in the Army, the first Black graduate of the Naval Academy, and the first Black presidential Cabinet member, according to Journalist Alison Stewart, author of First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School as told to NPR host Cornish on All Things Considered.
In addition, many more, including the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. from an American institution, the first Black federal judge, and a doctor who became internationally renowned for his pioneering work in developing the use of blood plasma.
The Downfall of Dunbar
Unfortunately, like many Black experiences after integration, Dunbar declined. According to Sowell, senior at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University:
“For Washington, the end of racial segregation led to a political compromise, in which all schools became neighborhood schools. Dunbar, which had been accepting outstanding Black students from anywhere in the city, could now accept only students from the rough ghetto neighborhood in which it was located. Virtually overnight, Dunbar became a typical ghetto school. As unmotivated, unruly and disruptive students flooded in, Dunbar teachers began moving out and many retired. More than 80 years of academic excellence simply vanished into thin air.”
I agree with Sowell only to an extent. I do not think that “unruly and disruptive ghetto students” are responsible for the downfall of Dunbar, but rather the decline in Blacks students being taught by Black teachers concerning Black lives and Black history.
I remember a video interview Maya Angelou gave where she testified that her school was “grand” and many others of the era who described their schooling as a positive experience. Though not given the same quality of learning materials, I believe Blacks got a better education before integration. Not merely because of segregation itself, but rather because it forced us to unify in a way that does not exist today.
In short, we were educating our own. Without teachers and faculty who actually understand them, their struggles and experiences, students can find it harder to adjust. In Angelou’s words, “blacks used what the West Africans in Senegal called ‘Sweet Language'” which is still used today. For example:
“Hey, there” is used as opposed to, “Hi, how are you?”
The Hey is drawn out and spoken with a certain tone of familiarity as sweet language is dependent entirely on tone. The way that Angelou spoke herself was in a sort of sweet language where every word, even if she didn’t mean it to, sounded like poetry.
“Hey, how you?”
This is not grammatically correct or what may be referred to as “proper” and it’s not meant to be. It is the lengthening of the word, the dragging it out and using a loving tone of voice, a caring voice: “Hey.” It is something that Blacks have been doing their entire lives without effort and is something that is mostly understood by other Blacks and while deemed sweet language, I call it a language of love.
This is just one example of the kind of History Israelite, so-called Black, children do not learn in today’s schools.
As the Black teachers moved on, so did Black students interest in learning, or so it seems. Over time, at least three more schools would be named after Dunbar: Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, Maryland, Fort Worth, Texas, and Chicago, IL.
While segregation allowed for inferior educational experiences in some respect (such as torn and used books as opposed to new ones) who is to say that the education itself was inferior? I am more interested in what was being taught behind closed doors. The historical, archaeological, and biblical history of Blacks that I am sure to have never made it in the history books. What really made these students prosper as opposed to the students today?
Dunbar now graduates only 55% of its students according to the 2016 values based on student performance on state exit exams and internationally available exams on college-level coursework, and AP®/IB exams are unranked in the National Rankings. But what do we expect? How do we expect the people who oppress us to also teach us the truth about who we are? If you weren’t being treated right, how do you think that you were taught right?
One thing is for certain, to assume that integration made education for Blacks better is up for debate.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
This is the last book review of the year and what a way to go out. Today’s review is a special one.
I am honored to introduce to you William Spivey, a regular contributor to the Inner-City News where he writes about politics and popular culture. He also blogs as “Enigma in Black” where he explores poetry, religion, politics and all manner of things socially relevant. He is the founder of the Facebook pages Average Citizen Forum, and Enigma in Black. William is also the winner of a University-wide Essay Contest while at Fisk University titled, “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education”. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Fisk and resides in Orlando, FL.
His goal now is to make his voice heard and make a difference, and he has given me the honor of advanced reading his soon to be released Political Fiction/Romance novel “Strong Beginnings”.
When Frederick Douglass Strong witnesses the murder of four African Americans on the Moore’s Ford Bridge in Covington Georgia in 1966, he set into motion a string of events that would influence the actions of his family for years to come. After all, Frederick wasn’t the only one to witness what would be known as The Moore’s Ford Bridge Four but so did Chris Lee Thomas, the teenage friend of his son Roosevelt and the son of one of the white men who just murdered the four.
Gripped with anxiety, Frederick goes home and is unable to sleep. With a thorough understanding of the time, he is drenched in the fear of what could happen next. Neglecting to reveal the details to his pregnant wife, he suffers silently until a knock is heard on the door. It’s Chris Lee Thomas and he wants Frederick to step outside. Frederick does and is faced with a lynch mob. Meanwhile, his son Roosevelt is peeking through his bedroom window, watching as the men chase his father.
However, Roosevelt is also seen by Chris just as his father was and the family is panicked with a decision of a lifetime. After Frederick’s death, it is clear, they must leave Covington if Roosevelt is to survive.
The story goes on to follow the life of Roosevelt and his family fifty years after The Moore’s Ford Bridge Four in Orlando Florida. His daughter, Voncelle Strong is one of the foremost voices of the novel. She is a passionate teacher and blogger and we watch as she positively influences her students, battles the unfair school system, juggle relationships and come face to face with relatives she didn’t know she had. As a former teacher, I enjoyed Voncelle’s fight for the student’s well-being.
As for the incident, can the Strong family outrun their beginnings? What will happen when they come face to face with their past?
There were many things to love about this book, such as the History, the family bonds, and education. Most of all, I loved how the title to this book is appropriately titled. Not only in its relation to the Strong family and the symbolism of new beginnings, but the beginning of this novel also starts out strong. I was nervous for Roosevelt as the family was deciding what should be done before making the decision to leave Covington. I also enjoyed the relationships, how they were tied into the story in a realistic way. For instance, when Voncelle travels to Europe she meets two young men who have more in common with her than she thinks and when a family member contacts Roosevelt all those years later for a family reunion, it sets in motion a string of revelations that would impact the family for a lifetime I am sure.
I recommend Strong Beginnings to anyone with a passion for the plight of African Americans, for those concerned about the politics of education and those who have a love affair for strong families.
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 5/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Thought Provoking: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
Strong Beginnings is not yet available. Stay tuned.
I hope you enjoyed our final review of the year! It’s been amazing and I am truly honored to be in the company of such a talented group of individuals. Don’t forget that you can contact all of the authors on the new Indie Author Page HERE. It’s a new page so there isn’t much going on right now but over my break (which started about…5 seconds ago) I intend to update it so it looks more “authorly” (whatever that means lol).
I have many more authors to come so be sure to return to The PBS Blog after the new year. If you’re an author in need of more reviews, be sure to register your book HERE for consideration. Also, do not forget to update me on any special occasions or anything exciting you have going on! I love supporting the authors I review so let’s stay in touch. Each one, reach one.