Education and the Quest for African American Citizenship: An Overview

Joy Ann Williamson-Lott, Linda Darling-Hammond and Maria E. Hyler

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Education and the Quest for African American Citizenship: An Overview

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Education has always been central both to the denial and attainment of citizenship for African Americans in the United States. The pursuit of educational opportunity has been and continues to be tortuous. In each era and in each way African Americans have made progress toward an education that would envision and enable full citizenship, there has been a major societal push-back that has caused the losses of gains that appeared won and a continuing struggle to regain lost ground and move ahead. This continues today, with the attacks on affirmative action, the resegregation of schools, and the growing inequality in funding for societally abandoned, highly segregated schools in urban and poor rural areas. Those who have fought for full citizenship for African Americans have envisioned African Americans participating in all of the roles of society, including roles as intellectual, cultural, social, political, and economic leaders. In this view, African Americans are entitled to a full and well-resourced education offering a rigorous academic curriculum that prepares citizens who are thinkers and leaders who can change the social order.

Keywords: African American Citizenship; education; full citizenship; affirmative action; resegregation; academic curriculum

Article.  4739 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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