By Audrey Thomas McCluskey
Emerging from the darkness of the slave period and Reconstruction, black activist ladies Lucy Craft Laney, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, and Nannie Helen Burroughs based faculties aimed toward releasing African-American early life from deprived futures within the segregated and decidedly unequal South. From the past due 19th via mid-twentieth centuries, those members fought discrimination as contributors of a bigger circulation of black ladies who uplifted destiny generations via a spotlight on schooling, social provider, and cultural transformation. Born unfastened, yet with the shadow of the slave prior nonetheless implanted of their realization, Laney, Bethune, Brown, and Burroughs equipped off every one other’s successes and discovered from every one other’s struggles as directors, teachers, and suffragists. Drawing from the women’s personal letters and writings approximately academic tools and from remembrances of surviving scholars, Audrey Thomas McCluskey unearths the pivotal value of this sisterhood’s legacy for later generations and for the establishment of schooling itself.
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Additional resources for A Forgotten Sisterhood: Pioneering Black Women Educators and Activists in the Jim Crow South
There was also the early criticism she received from some black males who thought that an unmarried woman should not be in charge of such an operation. 8 In deciding to open her school in 1886 in Augusta, rather than in the other Georgia cities where she had lived—Macon, Atlanta, Savannah, and Milledgeville—Laney also heeded the advice of allies such as Richard H. Allen, secretary of the Board of Missions for Freedmen of the Presbyterian Assembly. Allen convinced Laney to seek support from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
Laney did not intend for industrial courses to dominate her school, and the disparity was likely part of Laney’s stated intention to provide an education to “develop all sides of the pupil’s life” 4 in an environment that was academically rigorous and mission-oriented. This situation raises important questions: What factors influenced Laney’s calculations about what she could accomplish in Augusta, considering the harsh social and political situation for blacks in post-Reconstruction Georgia and the rising tide of industrial education?
This “burden” became Lucy Laney’s life’s work. She believed in the biblical directive of shared suffering and that sacrificing oneself for others is the highest Christian calling: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law,” she quoted from Scripture. The “self-sacrificing” narrative found expression in Laney’s work and in the regional and national black women’s club movement that she joined. It achieved great organizational reach after the founding of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896.