Separate and Unequal: Public School Campaigns and Racism in the Southern Seaboard States, 1901-1915

By Louis R. Harlan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
The Southern Education Board: A Regional Approach to Public Education

"I AM GROWING very intense upon the negro question," Robert C. Ogden of New York wrote to his fellow philanthropist George Foster Peabody in 1896. Ogden predicted that the ensuing ten years would cover the Negro's crisis, "and within that period it will be determined whether as a mass his race is to rise or fall in this country. I very much fear the fall."1 The cause of this pessimistic concern was, of course, the White Supremacy movement which was accumulating force all through the nineties. And out of this concern grew the Southern Education Board, in which Northern philanthropists and Southern educators joined to direct a region-wide public school crusade for fourteen years after 1901.

As Ogden explained the attitude of the philanthropists at a Southern gathering, "While we were originally interested in the South through negro education, our impulses have risen from negro education to the question of the entire burden of educational responsibility that you have throughout this entire section of the country."2 The Southern Education Board was an intersectional partnership of moderate progressives, moderate in the North on the delicate racial and sectional issues, and progressive in the South in the limited sense that it offered education as a key to regional progress. In challenging racism by good will, tact, and hard work, the Board's efforts were a test of the efficacy of moderate progres-

____________________
1
Ogden to Peabody, June 11, 1896, Robert C. Ogden Papers, Library of Congress.
2
Fourth Conference for Education in the South, Proceedings ( Winston-Salem, 1901), p. 6.

-75-

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