"In three essays, Fairclough evaluates the actions of African American educators from 1877 to 1954 in the southern US. First he considers the work of black teachers during the last part of the 19th century. Then he looks at the role played by Robert R. Moton, who succeeded Booker T. Washington as president of Tuskegee Institute. Third, he considers the work of African American teachers during the 20th century before the Brown decision. In each essay, Fairclough acknowledges that many people point to these individuals as leaders in the campaign for racial equality. However, he notes that some people claimed that these same educators hampered the Civil Rights Movement. Fairclough's contribution is to demonstrate that both opinions may be true: while black educators affirmed the ability of African American students to master academic knowledge, they avoided political demonstrations of their beliefs."
In Teaching Equality, Adam Fairclough provides an overview of the enormous contributions made by African American teachers to the black freedom movement in the United States. Beginning with the close of the Civil War, when “the efforts of the slave regime to prevent black literacy meant that blacks . . . associated education with liberation,” Fairclough explores the development of educational ideals in the black community up through the years of the civil rights movement. He traces black educators’ connection to the white community and examines the difficult compromises they had to make in order to secure schools and funding. Teachers did not, he argues, sell out the black community but instead instilled hope and commitment to equality in the minds of their pupils. Defining the term teacher broadly to include any person who taught students, whether in a backwoods cabin or the brick halls of a university, Fairclough illustrates the multifaceted responsibilities of individuals who were community leaders and frontline activists as well as conveyors of knowledge. He reveals the complicated lives of these educators who, in the face of a prejudice-based social order and a history of oppression, sustained and inspired the minds and hearts of generations of black Americans.
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