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This article examines the relationship between gender and leadership in southern public Black colleges from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth century. Public colleges offer a unique view of this relationship because, in an era of disfranchisement, the political stakes of leadership were more obvious than in private schools. I argue that the gap between Black women's dynamic roles on public campuses and their marginalized representations in school reports reveals the processes that have obscured their public educational leadership in the American South. Analysis of images collected from college catalogs supplements my examination of documentary evidence from archives and published reports. State educational administration was one of the few remaining spaces where Black men could wield political influence. As they worked to produce institutional images that proclaimed their capacity for and right to public leadership, however, they minimized the contributions of Black women.
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