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What Is Black Education?

The Black Education Free Encyclopaedia

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Black Education is the championing of equality, opportunity and access to education for the Black community. Black Education has been proven to improve the social mobility and economic independence of people within the black community and beyond. Black Education starts with Black people from Africa and the African Diaspora but ends with the entire world benefiting from the embrace and awareness that Black Education brings. It is the result of a great struggle and a reconstruction of equality, independence and prosperity. Black Education is the representation of despite obstacles of oppression or poverty, that education can still be obtained and to a high standard for black people and all people.


Before the African Slave Trade and colonisation. African nations had their own successful civilisations. It has been proven and evidenced that the ancient Egyptians, Ethiopians and Western Africans had an amazing greatness with thriving societies. Their civilians and leaders built and maintained their colossal empires, infrastructures, mining plants and factories. They had their own dialects and languages, their own education systems, medical systems and governments. Africans were thriving on their homeland.


When the Atlantic Slave Trade violently attacked the African civilisation removing Africans from their homeland, they were taken to foreign lands around the world to be exploited, abused and refused an education. In the USA where for many years, black literacy was feared by the white man as they wanted the black slaves to be dependent on their masters. Slave masters forbid slaves from learning to read or write and made it a crime for others to teach them. Education in most states in the South was outlawed for blacks, and subsequently many were not given the opportunity to a formal education until they escaped to the North and when laws were eventually abolished and new laws like the Civil Rights Act were passed. During slavery and after, the pursuit of education became a communal effort for blacks, learning from each other and hiring private tutors. But even when African Americans could freely seek a formal education, they would still encounter many barriers through systemic racism and segregation. They had limited access to educational resources, schools and teachers.

Over the decades black people in the USA and around the world have fought against the systems built to oppress them to get a formal education. Prior to the Civil Rights Act, higher education institutions served mostly white students and disqualified blacks from enrolling. As a result of the segregation and barriers blacks faced for a higher education at colleges, the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were formed. They created opportunities for African Americans and are largely responsible for creating the educated middle class African American. Most HBCUs were established in the South, supported by religious missionaries, there were approximately 121 HBCUs that existed in the 1930’s. The majority of them still existing today, including Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University. Many of them have created some of the country’s most prominent alumni including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and Vice President Kamala Harris. The black institutions were criticised as being segregated but largely supporting white philanthropy and white ideology, focusing on industrial education to prepare black students to work in predominantly white organisations. Since the Civil Rights Act, HBCUs have diversified their student in take with some become prominently non-black. While predominately white institutions have attracted the most qualified black students and increased their diversity to make their colleges available to any race. The requirement for HBCO is no longer what it used to be.

The education of African-Americans has developed leaps and bounds in recent decades with Black college paving the way for generation to succeed and excel. Schools are recruiting more black teachers and the opportunities for black students continue to increase. One of the first African American teachers to be recognised and honoured in the USA is Olivia Letts. Appointed as a teacher in 1951 by the Lansing School District in Michigan, after first being rejected because of her race, and a decade later promoted to principal in 1961. Letts spent her career and personal life advocating for education, community service and civil rights, along with many other activists they created a change in mindsets, change in community and importantly a change in Black Education.

South Africa

Similarly, to the USA, in South Africa after and during the Apartheid, many Africans sought to get educated but faced many barriers from white Europeans. The Apartheid created education inequalities through overt racist policies. The Bantu Education Act 1953 (later renamed the Black Education Act, 1953) was a law passed in South Africa that legislated racially separated educational facilities. Although it was dressed up as a progressive law for Black Education, in reality it was restricting what black children were taught. The Bantu act was able to created separate departments of education by race, White, Asian, Coloured & Black. Each race had a designated education infrastructure. It meant the government were able to which give more to white schools and less to black schools. They limited learning to only a few hours a day. This was to further segregate and oppress blacks and lessen their opportunities. Unlike earlier schools in South Africa, run by missionaries with only some state aid, the Bantu act meant that schools had to get government funding that came with the conditions of the Bantu act, requiring the teaching of a set curriculum that was racially discriminatory and further promoted the apartheid.

In 1994 when the great Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first Black President, winning 63% of the vote. It was a pivotal turning point for South Africa and the ending of the apartheid system. Through a series of negotiations between the National Party and the African National Congress and other political organisations, the apartheid finally came to an end under Mandela’s rule. He was truly heroic and widely celebrated as a national and world leader.

Europe and the World

European Colonialism resulted in many nations around the world adopting the education curriculums and systems from the Western hemisphere, from countries like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and including Canada and the United States of America. Colonised countries have adopted the teachings of the Western world academia, including their religious theories, scientific theories, statistical analysis and their recording of history. Historically, instead of challenging the validity of these teachings and the relevance and meaningfulness to their own nation, these were taught and perceived as the pinnacle of a high level of education. The notion of ‘if you are educated by the West you are highly educated’. Until recent times this was the construed message by societies across the globe. However, in recent times, this has drawn the attention of academics and students around the world, whom have started to critique the curriculums and encourage change.

In the UK the organisation The Black Curriculum is working closely with schools to make changes to the curriculum to incorporate the history of black people and highlight the importance of pupils learning this history. The views of governments and schools around the world are starting to realise the importance of having more inclusive curriculums. Those that teach about different cultures and histories from around the world and not just from a Westernised perspective, but from the perspective of the people from these nations and ethnic backgrounds.

With movements like the Black Lives Matter, where in the UK it has become an educational trade union program of action to tackle inequality. The Black Live Matter movement started from the unmeasurable amount of systemic racism in the United States policing system and education system.

In the USA the results from National Assessment for Educational Progress, a test known as the Nation’s Report Card, has consistently shown over the past 50 years that there is a substantial achievement gap between white and black students, white students overwhelming out performing black children. After years of brutality, oppression, segregation, systemic racism it is no surprise. But the future of black education is looking a lot more prosperous and the education for black students is becoming more front and centre of conversations in schools, homes and communities.

To further improve Black Education, it requires the creation and development of programs and curricula that teaches about Black culture and Black history. To teach anti-racism policies to administrators, educators and students. To train staff how to deal with and implement anti-racist behaviour, how to manage overt and covert racism. For schools and large organisations to have an advisory council or board that oversees diversity and addresses racially sensitive cases. This is the future of Black Education to make the world a better place for all. To have open discussion so all races can feel comfortable to discuss their concerns, ask questions and be inquisitive. To ensure that all voices are heard, that we can all respect each other and appreciate all races and their cultures and histories with an openness, and not a cancel culture that promotes silent suffering or suppressing views. We have black people and the African diaspora across every continent in the world, Black Education needs to be a part of every curriculum.

This page was last updated on 07, March, 2022

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teacher and boy - black education - credit - katerina-holmes

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