A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and by Audrey Thomas McCluskey

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 colleges geared toward releasing African-American early life from deprived futures within the segregated and decidedly unequal South. From the overdue 19th via mid-twentieth centuries, those members fought discrimination as individuals of a bigger stream of black ladies who uplifted destiny generations via a spotlight on schooling, social carrier, and cultural transformation. Born unfastened, yet with the shadow of the slave earlier nonetheless implanted of their recognition, Laney, Bethune, Brown, and Burroughs equipped off each one other’s successes and discovered from every one other’s struggles as directors, teachers, and suffragists. Drawing from the women’s personal letters and writings approximately academic equipment and from remembrances of surviving scholars, Audrey Thomas McCluskey unearths the pivotal value of this sisterhood’s legacy for later generations and for the establishment of schooling itself.

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Such poor homes (it pains me to say) not homes, but wretched hovels. We are striving to teach them to care for, to love, and make their home pleasant. We can have no success in this unless we can make the school surroundings pleasant, or at least decent. 20 The campus continued to expand, and new structures were built during Haines’s first decades. For a school with itinerant beginnings, the support of the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen opened up other revenue streams and was a major step in securing funds from likeminded donors.

53. Booker T. Washington, The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery, vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday, page 1909, reprinted by Negro Universities Press, 1969), 308. 54. W. E. B. Du Bois, Crisis 13, no. 6 (April 1917): 269. Du Bois may have aimed his derisive comment at Charles T. Walker, a prominent Augusta educator and devoted follower of Booker T. Washington. 55. McCluskey and Smith, Building a Better World, 50. 56. Audrey T. McCluskey, “‘We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible’: Black Women School Founders and Their Mission,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 22, no.

32. Haines Institute, “Golden Jubilee,” program booklet, 1934, Lucy Craft Laney vertical file, Reese Library, Augusta College and Richmond County Historical Society. 33. Hattie McDaniel, “Letters to Mother,” 1916–1922, Hattie Perry vertical file, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University. 34. Harold G. Fleming, “Victorian Reformer,” Southern Changes 11, no. 5 (1989): 18–19. 35. Jacqueline Ann Rouse, Lugenia Burns Hope, 5. 36. Lucy C. Laney, “Address Before the Women’s Meeting,” Atlanta University Conference 1897 (New York: Arno Press, 1968), 57.

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