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Section 2: Building the Black Community: The Family Section 2: Building the Black Community: The Church Section 2: Building the Black Community: The School Section 2: Quest for Economic Autonomy and Equal Rights Section 2:  Memory and Mourning Section 2: Violence

Building the Black Community: The School

Image of a girl reading

Education, denied them under slavery, was essential to the African-American understanding of freedom. Young and old, the freedpeople flocked to the schools established after the Civil War.

For both races, Reconstruction laid the foundation for public schooling in the South.

Image of children Northern benevolent societies, the Freedmen's Bureau, and, after 1868, state governments, provided most of the funding for black education, but the initiative often lay with blacks themselves, who purchased land, constructed buildings, and raised money to hire teachers.

The desire for learning led families to move to towns and cities so that their children could have access to education, and children to instruct their parents after school hours.

Reconstruction also witnessed the creation of the nation's first black colleges, including Howard University in Washington, D.C., Fisk University in Tennessee and Hampton Institute in Virginia.

Initially, these institutions emphasized the training of black teachers and by 1869, blacks outnumbered whites among the nearly 3,000 men and women teaching the freedpeople in the South.

Before the Civil War, only North Carolina among Southern states had established a comprehensive system of education for white children. During Reconstruction, public education came to the South.

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Copyright 2003
A New Birth of Freedom: Reconstruction During the Civil War The Meaning of Freedom: Black and White Responses to Slavery From Free Labor to Slave Labor Rights and Power: The Politics of Reconstruction Introduction The Ending of Reconstruction Epilogue: The Unfinished Revolution Credits for this Exhibit