Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Africana Studies

First Advisor

Melinda Lawson




public education, African-Americans, teaching, knowledge


This thesis explores the legislative, social and economic development of public education in the United States. Since its inception in the 17th century, American schools have been subject to criticism, yet many of the same issues (rote, homogenous teaching, lack of achievement, educators devoid of passion and purpose) still occupy convoluted dialogue between education reformists and parents alike. However, within this narrative lies the more complex narrative of education for Black Americans. For much of this country’s history, Black Americans have existed in an often intensely segregated environment. Molded by ruthless disenfranchisement, a certain “Black educational agenda” managed to ripen within this context of political and economic oppression. Principles of community uplift, knowledge of self, cultural identity, and collective survival are woven deeply and intricately into this search for freedom, knowledge and independence. Consequently, education for Black Americans has been perceived and used as a tool of liberation for centuries. In an attempt to trace both an overarching development of education, and the parallel shifts in education for Black Americans, I will apply a historical analysis of the past three centuries using broad strokes of comparison. In hopes of better understanding whether the Black agenda is still alive in well amidst contemporary educational terrains, I will analyze interviews with local educators and administrators.