Education

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Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Nannie Helen Burroughs

Among the most outstanding African-American educators of the post-reconstruction era of the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century were Dr. Anna Julia Cooper and Ms. Nannie Helen Burroughs. During this extremely difficult and rocky period for African-Americans these dedicated sisters were confronted with the arduous tasks of struggling for racial uplift, economic justice and social equality.

Nannie Helen Burroughs became a school founder, educator and civil rights activist. She identified African-American teachers such as Anna Julia Cooper as important role models. She attended public schools in Washington, D.C., graduated with honors in 1896, studied business in 1902, and received an honorary M.A. degree from Eckstein-Norton University in Kentucky in 1907.  Continue reading

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

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