Education

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Ambrose Caliver

Ambrose Caliver

Ambrose Caliver

A major contributor to the field of adult education, Dr. Ambrose Caliver devoted much of his professional life to adult literacy. While this area continued to occupy his interest and best efforts, he also took an active role in such matters as displaced persons, human rights, public affairs, aging, and professional development of adult educators.

Born in 1894, Caliver began his career as a high school principal in Tennessee. Before his death in 1962 he served in the following capacities: faculty member at Fisk University; specialist in the education of Negroes, United States Office of Education; organizer of the National Advisory Committee on the Education on Negroes.  Continue reading

Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall

(1803-1890) opened an academy on the Canterbury Green in 1831 to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful until the following fall when she admitted Sarah Harris, a 20-year-old black woman. Sarah had hoped to become a teacher with the help of the education the academy could provide. Reflecting the attitudes of the times, Sarah’s admittance to the academy led parents to withdraw their daughters.

Miss Crandall made contacts throughout the northeast’s free black communities to attract young black women students. They came from as far away as Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. The state responded by passing the “Black Law” which made it illegal for Crandall to operate her school.  Continue reading

Annie Onieta Plummer

The Dictionary Lady

In 1992, noticed that children on their way to school in her Savannah, Georgia, neighborhood were not carrying books. With $50, she bought thirty dictionaries and handed them out to children on the street corner. In each book, she wrote the motto of the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

When others heard of her idea, they began sending her money so she could expand the project. She also sold t-shirts to raise more money. By 1996, she had given dictionaries to more than 17,000 children, by 1999, nearly 35,000. Annie Plummer was one of 12 children. She dropped out of school to have a baby and her first job was as a maid. She managed to find time to become involved in community affairs and is an example to us all of how anybody can have a good idea to help people.

Lily Ann Granderson (aka Milla Granson)


Soon after Union troops had captured and occupied the southern city of Natchez, Mississippi, in the summer of 1863, northern missionaries set about establishing the region’s first schools for freedpeople. But they were surprised to learn that at least one school already existed, and it had been in operation for many years.

Even more astounding, the students at this school were slaves and so was their teacher, Lily Ann Granderson. (Other sources identify her as Milla Granson and Lila Grandison.) Although a small number of slaves learned to read and write in the antebellum South, schools for slaves and slave teachers were extraordinarily uncommon.  Continue reading

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Griffith Brawley

Benjamin Brawley (1882-1939) was a prominent African American author and educator. He studied at Atlanta Baptist College, University of Chicago, and Harvard, and he taught at Atlanta Baptist College, Howard University, and Shaw University. Women of Achievement (c1919) is one of Brawley’s numerous books and articles on African American culture. Brawley also published widely in literary studies.

Several of his books were considered standard college texts, including The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States (1918) and New Survey of English Literature (1925).

Born in 1882 in Columbia, South Carolina, Brawley was the second son of Edward McKnight Brawley and Margaret Dickerson Brawley. He studied at Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College), graduating in 1901, earned his second BA in 1906 from the University of Chicago, and received his Master’s degree from Harvard University in 1908. Brawley taught in the English departments at Atlanta Baptist College, Howard University, and Shaw University.  Continue reading

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