The Educational Legacy of African-Americans

The doors have been opened for you to get the education you deserve.The educational legacy of African-Americans is a story filled with courage, perseverance, determination and pride. From the establishment of Cheney University (the oldest historically black college) in 1837 to the current debates over the effectiveness of common core, African-American leaders have always emphasized the importance of education for people of color. As late as the 1960s, obtaining a quality education was an act of bravery and sacrifice, but in 2015, it is simply a matter of choice from your available resources. You can choose a quality education for your children, and you can choose a quality education for yourself. February, African-American History Month, is a great time to study the history of the fight for educational equality in this country. It’s also a great time to commit to making education a priority for your household.

The African-American fight for educational equality is as old as slavery itself. Due to the tireless efforts of civil rights leaders, people of color now have access to wonderful educational opportunities at some of the most prestigious schools in the world. The road from the uneducated slaves to the commonality of African-American PhDs was not an easy one. Although there were lives lost, unjust imprisonments, violence, and other unfortunate displays of human violations, the result is children (and adults) of all races being able to attend quality schools and receive sound educations. Below is a timeline of a few milestone events in the fight for equality in education for people of color.

1865 – W.E.B. DuBois stated that although there were schools for “Negros” in the North, only about 19 percent of Negros (including freed slaves) could read and write. This was due to the widespread anti-literacy laws. 1875 – The first Civil Rights Act was passed. 1837 – 1950s – African-Americans established their own schools and colleges. 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education. 1957 – Nine African-American students integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. 1962 – First African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. 1971 – Swann v. Charolette-Mecklenburg Board of Education. 1973 – Keys v. School District No. 1 Denver, Colo. 1974 – Lau v. Nicholas.

Research each of these events, and ask yourself two sobering question: “Am I taking full advantage of my rights to education? Am I passing an educational legacy to my children?” If your answer is, “Yes,” then keep up the good work! If your answer is, “Well, maybe not,” then give yourself permission to benefit from your right to be a learned lady. You deserve an education that will bring out all of the wonderful gifts and talents that reside within you. You are worth it.

The U.S. education system is not perfect, but it does provide individuals with the opportunity to earn quality diplomas. There are many men and women who fought and died to open educational doors for the next generations. In the worst conditions, these men and women persevered to obtain education. You can do it, too, but in much easier conditions. It’s your time. Seize the moment.