Chapter

Common Schools, Revolutionary Memory, and the Crisis of Black Citizenship in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

in Schooling Citizens

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226542492
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226542515 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226542515.003.0007
Common Schools, Revolutionary Memory, and the Crisis of Black Citizenship in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

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By 1850, the school desegregation movement had deeply splintered Boston's black community. Black leaders were divided over how best to achieve their goals. School attendance rates for both white and black children in Boston exceeded those of their counterparts in Baltimore, where public schools charged white students a modest tuition and excluded black children altogether. Although Boston's policy of segregation did not dissuade African Americans from patronizing public schools, many black parents strongly lamented the city's unwillingness to provide their children with an education equivalent to that offered to white students. Beginning in 1844, black Bostonians launched a formal campaign to end Boston's policy of segregated schooling. African Americans had struggled to participate in the public memory of the American Revolution from the late eighteenth century and, by proxy, to lay claim to their role in their nation's creation. When Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that African Americans were not — nor would they ever be — full and equal members of the nation, blacks felt the constraints upon their citizenship tightening each year.

Keywords: school desegregation; Boston; public schools; citizenship; memory; African Americans; American Revolution

Chapter.  9345 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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