Women and the Politics of Empowerment

By Ann Bookman; Sandra Morgen | Go to book overview

8
Urban Politics in the Higher Education of Black Women: A Case Study

Andrée Nicola-McLaughlin Zala Chandler

All too often the potential for full intellectual development and goal realization on the part of minorities and women is suppressed by denying these groups the appropriate job training and educational opportunity necessary to assume a role which white males consider to be their domain. -- Shirley Chisholm, first Black woman member of Congress 1

The history of Black women's struggle for education in America can be characterized as one of resistance to social policies of containment and to racist and sexist oppression and violence. 2 Second to the abolition of slavery, the education of Black people has symbolized the cutting edge of the African-American quest for freedom. In this pursuit of formal learning against forces desirous of ensuring a docile slave population and a pool of cheap, unskilled Black labor, successively, Black women have been on the frontlines of the battlegrounds for both the education of Black women and that of Black people as a whole.

In the decade after the demise of American slavery, the onset of the postReconstruction campaign of white terror brought new socioeconomic proscriptions by the broader society. Nevertheless, countless Black women continued to teach and to establish schools to assist in the African -- American struggle for firstclass citizenship over the next century. Proponents of African -- American and women's rights, such as nineteenth-century Black feminist Anna Julia Cooper, advocated the higher education of Black females as a route to both the advancement of Black women and the promotion of Black community development.

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