The New Student's Reference Work/Negro, The Education of the

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The New Student's Reference Work
Negro, The Education of the

Ne′gro, The Education of the.  The first negroes were landed in the United States at Jamestown in 1619.  Within less than a century from that date there were over 50,000 here and by 1819 there were more than 1,500,000.  There now are about 10,000,000.  The education of these people, according to the common meaning of the term, was begun only with their emancipation from slavery.  The sudden emancipation of the negro was followed by a state bordering upon chaos, and it took a long time for things to adjust themselves to the new conditions.  Both the whites and the negroes were all at sea. The whites knew the negro only as a slave and themselves as their masters.  The negro knew only to serve.  Both were ill-prepared to adjust themselves to the new relation.  It is not surprising that the negro went the full sweep of the pendulum.  Emancipation from slavery meant to many emancipation from labor.  Manual labor, the only kind for which the negro was prepared, was considered degrading; and it is not too much to say that influences were present that tended to confirm him in this idea.  Following the emancipation, schools were established in great numbers.  Missionary societies became active.  Armies of teachers were rushed down from the north.  The United States army exercised its usual zeal in furthering the work.  The Rev. John Eaton, afterwards United States Commissioner of Education, was placed by General Grant in charge of the instruction for the emancipated race.  Within five years after the close of the war more than $5,000,000 was expended by these organizations for educational purposes.  On May 20, 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau was established by the national government, and Major-General O. O. Howard was made commissioner in charge.  During the five years of its operation it made a total expenditure of more than $6,000,000, the larger portion for educational purposes.  Over against all this enthusiasm on the part of the northern educator was the silent though persistent distrust on the part of the southern whites.  They looked upon the negro as being fit only for manual labor and questioned the advisability of any attempt to train him along academic lines.  The northern enthusiast was anxious to show them that the negro was as capable to learn as the whites.  In the midst of it all it can not be considered strange that the tendency on the part of the negro was to discount the worth of industrial skill and to place an over-valuation on academic learning.  Great harm as well as great good followed these methods.  On the one hand, a great many negroes were led to consider themselves too good for manual labor as soon as they received a little learning, and on the other many were found who showed themselves capable of becoming good and efncient teachers and preachers, doctors and lawyers as well, and the wisdom and economy of providing schools with teachers of their own race was suggested.  During the decade ending in 1878 more than 25 normal schools and collegiate institutes under control of different religious denominations were founded. These schools sent out many well-trained and efficient teachers.  Unfortunately, however, these schools seemed to encourage rather than eradicate the negro’s well-developed notion that manual labor was degrading and that the way of escape was by study along academic lines.  Latin and Greek occupied a prominent place in the curriculum; the literary and academic side was too much emphasized; and little or no attention was given to the practical side.  For this these schools have been severely criticized.  But each year is giving to these institutions, as to the colleges of the north, curricula which have more vital connection with the life the student is to live.  In this direction no single influence has been so potent as that of Hampton Institute (q. v.), founded in 1868 by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (q. v.).  Its fundamental work has been the training of teachers, and industrial training was incorporated at the beginning and has continued a dominant factor.  From Hampton sprang Tuskegee Institute (q. v.),a larger institution of the same kind, founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington (q. v.).  It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of these two institutions and the value of the services of their two honored founders in the development of the education of the negro.  In the secondary and higher schools for negroes, not including public schools, in the former 16 slave-states and the District of Columbia there were 20,972 pupils in 1904–5 receiving industrial training in farm-work, carpentry, sewing, cooking and other branches, while the total enrollment in these institutions was 42,889.  The total value of the grounds, buildings, furniture and scientific apparatus was $11,102,283.  A vast amount of money has been contributed by northern philanthropists to the support of these institutions, although an income of about $250,000 was derived in 1904-5 from tuition alone.  These contributions, which began to pour into these states before the battle-drums had ceased and continue to the present day, now aggregate nearly $50,000,000.  It was 1870 before much was undertaken in the way of establishing free public schools, but since that date rapid progress has been made.  Separate schools for negroes are maintained in all of these states, with an enrollment in 1904–5 of 1,602,194 in the elementary schools and 50,251 in the higher schools and an average daily attendance of more than 60 per cent. of the enrollment.  This was larger than the enrollment of both the whites and negroes in 1876–7.  The number of teachers aggregated about 29,000.  Although separate schools have been maintained, separate accounts have not been kept.  But for 1904–5 the sum of $46,401,832 was expended for the support of common schools for both whites and negroes, and according to very careful estimates 20 per cent, of the total or about $9,000,000 was expended for the support of the schools for negroes, about as much as was expended for schools for negroes and whites in 1870.  This growth and development has been gradual though rapid, and augurs well for the future.  In the public schools, also, more and more emphasis is being placed on the side of industrial training, and the life the pupil is to live is receiving greater attention.