Race, Space, and Educational Opportunity

in Schooling Citizens

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226542492
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226542515 | DOI:
Race, Space, and Educational Opportunity

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Boston was the first in the nation to craft a system of common schools open to boys and girls, allocating more of its resources to public education than any other American city in the antebellum period. African Americans benefited from this educational commitment in a lot of ways. The New England seaport ostensibly provided public education to African Americans free of charge — aside, of course, from their tax contributions. And unlike their counterparts in New Haven, Boston's white population did not resort to violence to suppress black access to education. Nevertheless, white Bostonians' loyalty to the promise of public schooling broke down because they were not comfortable with racial integration. When two groups of petitioners opposed the construction of a schoolhouse for black children, they did not ask the city to exclude African Americans from public schools altogether. To better understand the petitioners' rhetorical strategy, it is helpful to look briefly to the literature on race and homeownership in the twentieth century, when struggles over race, city space, and property became more frequent.

Keywords: Boston; race; city space; property; African Americans; common schools; public education; racial integration; homeownership

Chapter.  11892 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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