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African Americans’ Strive for Educational Self-Determination in Cincinnati Before 1873

  • Nikki Taylor
Chapter

Abstract

In nineteenth-century Ohio, free African Americans believed that education would break down the walls of discrimination, prepare them for citizenship, and improve life opportunities. Despite their yearning for education, African Americans in Ohio were denied access to common schools until an 1825 Legislative Act provided for universal public education.1 Sadly enough, that window of opportunity was slammed shut just four years later when the Act was repealed, denying African Americans access to public education for more than 20 years. Custom excluded them from other schools, as well.2 Thus, for black Ohioans, the right to a public education was the biggest civil rights issue in the antebellum era—second only to the abolition of slavery. After decades of protest and agitation, they finally gained access to public schools in 1849 when disabling laws of exclusion were dismantled. But, rather than allow white and black children to attend the same schools, state legislators made provisions for separate school systems. Hence, long before Jim Crow was systematically codified on a national scale, and well before the landmark decision Plessy v. Ferguson provided the directive of “Separate, But Equal,” separate public schools emerged in Ohio.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Carter G. Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1915) 327Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    David Gerber, Black Ohio and the Color Line 1860–1915 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1976) 192.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Gayle T. Tate and Lewis A. Randolph 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki Taylor

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