Young and Ideas about Educational Needs
for Blacks (1892–1901)
When Nathan B. Young arrived at Tuskegee Institute in 1892, his ideas about the education of blacks were already taking shape. Like Booker T. Washington, he was interested in the economic, moral, and intellectual uplift of the black masses, and he believed that education was the key to that uplift. Consequently, he believed that the urgent need of the day was to improve the state of education that existed for the vast majority of black youth in the South, especially in the rural areas. He saw the need for two things: proper training and preparation of competent, dedicated teachers and expansion of common schools into the rural and remote areas of the South.
By the time Young arrived at Tuskegee, he already believed in equality in education and that black teachers should be trained on an equal basis with white teachers. As principal in Birmingham, he had emphasized this and had approved of a policy there requiring black teachers to pass the very same qualifying examination as white teachers.1 Those most likely to pass would have educational credentials, the foremost of which was a college degree.
After Young began his work at Tuskegee his desire was to develop the Academic Department and provide black graduates with one of the best college degrees in the South. Having been trained in the
1. Young, “The Birmingham Public Schools—Colored Department.”