By Audrey Thomas McCluskey
Emerging from the darkness of the slave period and Reconstruction, black activist girls Lucy Craft Laney, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, and Nannie Helen Burroughs based faculties aimed toward freeing African-American adolescence from deprived futures within the segregated and decidedly unequal South. From the past due 19th via mid-twentieth centuries, those members fought discrimination as contributors of a bigger flow of black ladies who uplifted destiny generations via a spotlight on schooling, social carrier, and cultural transformation. Born loose, yet with the shadow of the slave previous nonetheless implanted of their cognizance, Laney, Bethune, Brown, and Burroughs equipped off each one other’s successes and realized from each one other’s struggles as directors, academics, and suffragists. Drawing from the women’s personal letters and writings approximately academic tools and from remembrances of surviving scholars, Audrey Thomas McCluskey unearths the pivotal importance of this sisterhood’s legacy for later generations and for the establishment of schooling itself.
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Additional info for A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and Activists in the Jim Crow South
Seeing that Laney’s work was not being recognized beyond her own group, in 1929 Barrett nominated her for the William Harmon Foundation’s annual award for distinguished achievement among Negroes. Barrett, who won the award the same year she nominated Laney, taught briefly at Haines after graduating from Hampton Institute. 50 In her letter of nomination, she asked the organization to “please look up Miss Lucy Laney’s work. . [S]he has done a wonderful job in inspiring young people . . [and] splendid work in the field of education through the years.
In some counties that meant hiring the least qualified applicants to teach in them. ” He was quickly assured that “they” were receiving only “rudiments” of an education. 79 The situation did not change substantially during the early years of the twentieth century and provides another example of why Lucy Laney’s work in educating blacks was brave and fraught with challenges. The government reform, trust-busting, and moral uplift that historians have described as characterizing the Progressive Era constituted mainly a “for whites only” 80 enterprise.
13 While Laney’s Victorian views entrusted educated black women with a greater responsibility for teaching and nurturing children, her teaching staff at 40 Chapter 3 Haines comprised both women and men who were well educated and held to the same standard of excellence—as was the co-ed student body. From its beginning in 1883 in a rented lecture hall of the Christ Presbyterian Church, with five students in attendance, Laney’s ambitions for the school were evident. Yet she endured many setbacks in the early years that really tested her mettle.