Introduction “This Right to Grow”

Stephanie Y. Evans

in Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850–1954

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032689
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039299 | DOI:
Introduction “This Right to Grow”

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This book chronicles the struggles of African American women in gaining access to formal education and presents the philosophies of influential black women academics. This book aims to investigate the history of black women in higher education, to interpret the historic relationship between cultural identity and education, and to demonstrate how the struggles of these women on gaining access to education can inspire contemporary educators to modify the academy into a tool that will serve as a catalyst for social equity and opportunity. In this book, the discussion traces the history of the educational struggles of black women wherein they demanded a niche in the academy as students and asserted their voices as educators whereby, despite the challenges and barriers posed by violence, oppressive campus policies and discrimination, they made a significant contribution in the modification and transformation of higher education in the United States. This book examines the lives of Anna Julia Cooper who was born enslaved yet earned a degree from the Sorbonne University and Mary McLeod Bethune who founded the Bethune-Cookman College. These two women exposed the hypocrisy in American notions of democracy and discredited European notions of intellectual superiority. They also worked for the assertion of equality in access to education wherein they contended that education is an inviolable right of all individuals in a democracy. Their philosophies as well brought a question on how human and civil rights were intertwined with education, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service.

Keywords: African American women; formal education; education; civil rights; black women; Anna Julia Cooper; Mary McLeod Bethune; equality

Chapter.  6918 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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