Dangerous Donations: Northern Philanthropy and Southern Black Education, 1902-1930

By Eric Anderson; Alfred A. Moss Jr. | Go to book overview

7

The Transformation of Northern
Philanthropy for the Black South

Mr. Rosenwald's subscription to our school means more than $2,500 for it will bring to us the recognition of other persons and agencies that are interested in the welfare work among our people.

—Charlotte Hawkins Brown 1.

As we proceed along the lines of standardization, . . . we are in grave danger from over-emphasis of the public school as the only way out....

—George Foster Peabody 2.

It is easy to find dramatic progress in southern black education between 1900 and 1930. By almost every measurement, including the number (and proportion) of black children in school, literacy rates, educational expenditure, and the quality of buildings and equipment, the school system for black southerners was markedly better thirty years after Robert Ogden launched his crusade for southern education.

In the South and the border states in 1900, only about half the black children between the ages of ten and fourteen attended school. The educational statistics were far worse in certain states, with, for example, Louisiana reporting 35 percent of the black children in this age group in school and Alabama 41 percent. By 1930 nearly 90 percent of black girls ages ten to fourteen were enrolled in school, and the proportion of boys in school was nearly as high. In 1900 a majority of the black population was illiterate in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina, and black illiteracy exceeded 40 percent in all the former Confederate states except Texas and Florida. Over the next three decades, these figures shrank so dramatically that in the state

____________________
1.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown to W. C. Graves, July 14, 1916, in Julius Rosenwald Papers, University of Chicago.
2.
Peabody to James H. Dillard, June 12, 1926, in Peabody Papers.

-191-

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