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

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

4

The General Education Board's
Choices

We ... pointed out the danger that by keeping alive, largely by Northern money, a large number of inferior negro schools, we might be hindering the Southern communities from regarding negro education as their own responsibility.

—Jerome D. Greene 1.

At the founding of the General Education Board in 1902, a well-informed observer might have plausibly prophesied that Tuskegee and Hampton would dominate the future of black education. Since the new GEB was led by William H. Baldwin, Jr., the chairman of the Tuskegee board of trustees, it would have been reasonable to predict that Booker T. Washington and his black protégés would eventually mediate all northern educational philanthropy for the South.

What actually happened was very different. Within a decade of Washington's death in 1915, the Washington philosophy, Washington's network of influence (“the Tuskegee machine”), and Washington's school were no longer preeminent in African American educational philanthropy. Indeed, by 1930 Tuskegee and Hampton were moving away from industrial education as a radical challenge to conventional education and recasting their curriculum as little more than a cautious imitation of a standard American college.

Central to these developments was a series of choices by the General Education Board, as the philanthropic leaders who succeeded Baldwin assessed the options available to them. For the historian, the opportunities that the philanthropists could not imagine illuminate the choices they saw as obvious.

____________________
1.
Jerome D. Greene to Wallace Buttrick, January 7, 1914, Box 353, GEB Papers.

-85-

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