Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 February 2017
In an earlier study, an examination of the educational content of the African American monthly press between 1900 and 1930, I was surprised to find meager commentary on issues related to black teachers or on the conditions and practice of teaching in African American schools. For example, the periodicals contained only two full-length articles, both published before 1908, on the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools (NATCS), the most prestigious African American educational organization of the period and aspirant to the title of black NEA. Likewise, the journals virtually ignored the social roles of teachers, rarely highlighting them as role models or lauding their community contributions. Why these omissions occurred is a matter of conjecture, though I speculated in the earlier work that the reasons were associated with the journals' middle-class orientation, which celebrated higher educational achievements by the race more than dwelling upon the deplorable conditions enveloping black common schooling during this troubled time. Given this framework, issues concerning African American teachers were neglected to the extent that a variety of concerns involving black common schooling were glossed over as well.
1 See Fultz, Michael, “‘Agitate then Brother’: Education in the Black Monthly Periodical Press, 1900–1930” (Ed.D. diss., Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1987) for a complete discussion of the periodicals, their educational content, and their middle-class orientation.Google Scholar
2 Smith, S. L., “Negro Public Schools in the South,” Southern Workman 56 (July 1927): Table 1, 316, and Table 3, 321.Google Scholar
3 Blose, David and Caliver, Ambrose, “Statistics of the Education of Negroes,” U.S. Office of Education, Circular no. 215 (Washington, D.C., 1943), Table 6, 5; Turner, W. E., “Immediate and Pressing Problem [sic] in Negro Education in Tennessee,” The Broadcaster 12 (Mar. 1940): 38. See also Caliver, Ambrose, Availability of Education to Negroes in Rural Communities, U.S. Office of Education, Bulletin no. 12 (Washington, D.C., 1936), 19; McAllister, Jane Ellen, The Training of Negro Teachers in Louisiana (New York, 1929), 19.Google Scholar
4 Du Bois, W. E. B., The Negro Common School, Atlanta University Study no. 6 (1901; New York, 1969), 13. See also Jenkins, Lizzie, “My First Country School,” Southern Workman 32 (Jan. 1903): 48; McAllister, Jane E., “A Venture in Rural-Teacher Education among Negroes in Louisiana,” Journal of Negro Education 7 (Apr. 1938): 133–34; Report of the Committee of Investigation of the Teacher Training Facilities for Negroes in Mississippi, 1930 (Also entitled “A Teacher Training Program for Colored Schools,” Bulletin no. 61, Sep. 1930), Record Group 5, vol. 135, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Department of Education, Jackson, Miss.; An Educational Study of Alabama, U.S. Bureau of Education, Bulletin no. 41 (Washington, D.C., 1919), 181; see also Woodson, Carter G., The Rural Negro (1930; New York, 1969), 184.
5 Mamie Garvin Fields with Fields, Karen, Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir (New York, 1983), 114. See also Caliver, Ambrose, Rural Elementary Education among Negroes under Jeanes Supervising Teachers, U.S. Office of Education, Bulletin no. 5 (Washington, D.C., 1933), 45–47; Moss, J. W., “Some Problems That Confront the Rural School Teacher,” Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute Gazette 17 (Oct. 1910): 13.
6 See Miller, Carroll L. and Gregg, Howard D., “The Teaching Staff,” Journal of Negro Education 1 (July 1932): 196–223. Caliver, , Rural Elementary Education, 16–23, quotation on 20; Williams, W. T. B., “Negro Rural Schools in Virginia,” Southern Workman 32 (Aug. 1903): 367; Blose, and Caliver, , Statistics of the Education of Negroes, 1933–34 and 1935–36, Tables 6 and 7, 24–25. As sociologist Johnson, Charles S. has commented, “Excessive retardation in the rural schools is the inevitable result of the demands of the economic system [cotton growing]. Regardless of how strong the desire to attend school may be, it is secondary to the demands of the system.” See his Growing Up in the Black Belt: Negro Youth in the Rural South (1941; New York, 1967), 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7 Caliver, Ambrose, Education of Negro Teachers , vol. 4 of the National Survey of the Education of Teachers, Bulletin no. 1 (Washington, D.C., 1933), 10–11. See also Williams, W. T. B., “The Outlook in Negro Education,” Presidential speech at 8th Annual Session of the NATCS, 1911, 12–29; Jones, Thomas Jesse, ed., Negro Education, vol. 2, Bulletin no. 39, 1916 (Washington, D.C., 1917), 15, 74; Davis, Jackson, “State Normal Schools and Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges for Negroes, 1912–13 to 1921–22,” p. 19, folder 3267, box 313, General Education Board Collection, Rockefeller Center Archives.Google Scholar
8 Williams's reports on his school visits are in boxes 7–18 in the William Taylor Burwell Papers, Tuskegee University Archives. Williams served as a field agent for both the John F. Slater Fund and the Anna T. Jeanes Fund (also known as the Negro Rural School Fund, Inc.), and by the 1910s he was generally regarded as among the most knowledgeable individuals in the South about the conditions of African American education.
9 Bruce, Roscoe Conkling, “Service by the Educated Negro,” Colored American Magazine 6 (Dec. 1903): 852; Gandy, John M., “What Can the Secondary Schools Do for the Community[?]” Southern Workman 39 (Feb. 1910): 106–11; Work, Monroe N., “Problems of Education,” Southern Workman 39 (Oct. 1910): 520–25; Caliver, Ambrose, “The Negro Teacher and a Philosophy of Negro Education,” Journal of Negro Education 2 (Oct. 1933): 445.Google Scholar
11 Jackson, Luther, A History of the Virginia State Teachers Association (Norfolk, Va., 1937), 30–34. See also articles by Richardson, George and Blackshear, E. L., both entitled “What is the Negro Teacher Doing in the Matter of Uplifting His Race?” in Twentieth Century Negro Literature , ed. Culp, D. W. (1902; New York, 1969), 330–38; for post–World War I expressions of this theme, see Brawley, Benjamin, “The Teacher Faces the Student,” Southern Workman 55 (July 1926): 320–25; Jackson, Lena T., “Intelligent Leadership,” The Broadcaster 9 (Jan. 1937): 28–31. Minutes of the 7th Annual Session of the Alabama State Teachers Association, April 11–13, 1888 (Tuskegee, Ala., n.d.), 22.
12 See Fultz, Michael, “Education in the Black Monthly Periodical Press, 1900–1901,” in Education of the African American Adult: An Historical Overview, ed. Neufeldt, Harvey G. and McGee, Leo (New York, 1990), 75–112; Jackson, , “Intelligent Leadership,” 29; Turner, T. W., “What the Colored Teachers of Baltimore are Doing for Their Race,” Colored American Magazine 13 (July 1907): 41, 36.Google Scholar
13 Gandy, J. M., “The Needs of Negro Rural Life in Virginia,” Southern Workman 41 (Nov. 1912): 626; Washington, Booker T., “Southern Negro Rural Schools and Teachers,” Southern Workman 38 (Aug. 1909): 426, 429. See also Whiting, Tossie, “The Fields of Usefulness of the Rural Teacher,” Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute Gazette 13 (Apr. 1907): 4. As F. O. Alexander put it, “It is impossible to build an education program in dirt and filth,” Mississippi Educational Journal 11 (Apr.–May 1935): 121–22.Google Scholar
14 Moton, Robert R., “The Teacher and Race Relations,” Bulletin of the Alabama State Teachers Association, 1920–21 ([Tuskegee, Ala., 1921]), 44.Google Scholar
15 Hale, W. J., “Purpose and Program of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools,” The Bulletin [National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools] 9 (Nov. 1928): 7; Johnson, , Growing Up in the Black Belt, 118–19. See also Williams, W. T. B., “An Inviting Oportunity [sic] for the Negro Teacher,” National Note-Book 1 (July 1919): 9–11.Google Scholar
16 Walker, Thomas C., “How to Arouse the Interest of the Community in Schools,” Proceedings of the Fourth and Fifth Annual Sessions of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools, 1907–1908, 83; Washington, , “Southern Negro Rural Schools and Teachers,” 428. See also Moton, , “The Teacher and Race Relations,” 44–46. Hortense Powdermaker notes in After Freedom: A Cultural Study in the Deep South (1939; New York, 1968), 313, that in Cottonville, , “No educator can succeed here unless he is able to meet community problems, especially those that center in inter-racial relations. This is grueling pioneer work, and only a few have the necessary persistence, drive, acumen, and realism to carry it forward.”
17 Fields, , Lemon Swamp and Other Places, 209, 126.
18 See Perry, Thelma D., History of the American Teachers Association (Washington, D.C., 1975), 133–62; Smith, Susan Lynn, “‘Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired’: Black Women and the National Negro Health Movement, 1915–1950” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1991).
19 Washington, Josephine, “Character Building in Education,” Journal of the 22nd Session of the Alabama State Teachers Association, 1903 ([Tuskegee, Ala., 1903]), 1; Perry, , History of the American Teachers Association, 163–208.Google Scholar
20 Phillips, Myrtle R., “The Negro Secondary School Teacher,” Journal of Negro Education 9 (July 1940): 484–85; Caliver, Ambrose, “The Role of the Teacher in the Reorganization and Redirection of Negro Education,” Journal of Negro Education 5 (July 1936): 508–16. See also Caliver, , “The Negro Teacher and a Philosophy of Negro Education,” Journal of Negro Education 2 (Oct. 1933): 432–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
21 Bond, , Education of the Negro in the American Social Order, 275. Du Bois, W. E. B., The Souls of Black Folk (1903; New York, 1969), 78.
22 “President's Annual Address Delivered by John M. Gandy, Baltimore, July 28, 1920,” National Note-Book Quarterly 3 (Jan. 1921): 5–6.
23 Sanders, W. W., “The Problem of Negro Education Presented to the Department of Superintendence of the N.E.A.,” The Bulletin 12 (Mar. 1934): 9; Thompson, Charles H., “The Status of Education of and for the Negro in the American Social Order,” Journal of Negro Education 8 (July 1939): 502. See also, Robinson, W. A., “What Peculiar Organization and Direction Should Characterize the Education of Negroes?” Journal of Negro Education 5 (July 1936): 393–400; Caliver, Ambrose, “The Role of the Teacher in the Reorganization and Redirection of Negro Education,” Journal of Negro Education 5 (July 1936): 508–16.Google Scholar
24 Robinson, , “What Peculiar Organization and Direction,” 396; Davis, Jackson, “Practical Training in Negro Rural Schools,” Southern Workman 42 (Dec. 1913): 662.
25 Dollard, John, Caste and Class in a Southern Town (1937; Madison, Wis., 1988), 191. See also Powdermaker, , After Freedom, 33–34.
26 Myrdal, Gunnar, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York, 1944), 769.
27 Robinson, W. A., “Problems of the High School from a Salary Standpoint,” The Bulletin 7 (Jan. 1927): 8–9. Regarding the example cited by Robinson for his third point, it is instructive to note that Powdermaker found that it was the “custom” in Cottonville, as in many other counties in Mississippi, to sell licenses to unqualified black teachers. The man who acted as the intermediary was referred to in the community as a “good nigger.” See Powdermaker, , After Freedom, 317. Similarly, Fields relates that a man sarcastically referred to as “‘the black mayor of Charleston”’ would tell white officials the news of the black community in exchange for handing out jobs, including teaching positions. Fields, , Lemon Swamp and Other Places, 108, 110.Google Scholar
28 Du Bois, W. E. B. and Dill, Augustus, eds., The Common School and the Negro American, Atlanta University Publications, no. 16 (1911; New York, 1968), 137. See also, Woodson, , The Rural Negro, 189.Google Scholar
31 Anderson, James D. has also noted the pivotal ideological position occupied by African American teachers, though the context to which he refers highlights issues of industrial education. See his The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935 (Chapel Hill N.C., 1988), 110–47. See note 26 above for quotation.
33 Wilkerson, Garnet C., “Annual Address of the President of the NATCS,” The Bulletin 14 (Nov. 1935): 9.Google Scholar
34 Myrdal, , An American Dilemma, 881; Robinson, W. A., “The Present Status of High School Education among Negroes: A Factual and Critical Survey,” The Bulletin 11 (Nov. 1930): 3, 28.
36 Thompson, Charles, “Negro Teachers and the Elimination of Segregated Schools,” Journal of Negro Education 20 (Spring 1951): 138.Google Scholar
37 See, for example, Hansot, Elisabeth and Tyack, David, “A Usable Past: Using History in Educational Policy,” in Policy Making in Education, ed. Lieberman, Ann and McLaughlin, Milbrey W. (Chicago, 1982), 1–22.Google Scholar