Early African American Education

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During the 18th century, schools in the Southern United States refused to allow black children into their public schools; fearing that education and literacy would have a strong influence toward the destruction of the institution of slavery. In the Northern States, black education was not forbidden, though it was segregated. Much of the Quaker religion that has founded large parts of the north helped to increase literacy rates by creating schools. These schools and others gave African –Americans in the North a far higher literacy rate and writing ability than those in the Southern states. Much of the plantation and slave owner’s power came from the slave’s dependence on the owner for survival. Education was seen as a way to establish an independence; thus weakening the slave owner’s control. Several laws were passed in the Deep South, which forbid slaves to learn to read and write as well as making it illegal for any persons, white or black, to educate slaves. In 1740,…show more content…
Teachers, such as John Chavis from Raleigh and Margaret Douglass in Norfolk, ran night schools to avoid being discovered of illegal education to slaves. Douglass, however, was convicted for her crimes of educating black children and slaves, and was thus imprisoned for her actions. Sophie Auld, the wife of a southern plantation owner was the one to begin teaching the youthful Frederick Douglass. Upon her secret being discovered, she quickly became resentful and bitter toward Douglass, and he was subsequently forbidden from any further education. This, as history has shown, was not the case. Frederick Douglass began to continue his own quest for knowledge and education, while also instructing his fellow slaves how to read. His strong advocacy for black education prompted him to write to Harriet Beecher Stowe and to create a deeper drive toward education and
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