In honor of Black History Month, everyday I'm going to post a fact about black history which is really everyone's history, and give my thoughts about it and ask for yours.
So here is day one:
February 1st, 2011:
The African Free School in New York City was the first free school for African-Americans. It was started by the abolitionist group the New York Manumission Society on November 2, 1787. It was founded to provide education the the children of slaves and freemen.
The school was founded by the New York Manumission Society, an organization that advocated the full abolition of African slavery. The society's members were all white, male, wealthy, and influential. The society was founded by statesman and abolitionist John Jay, and included Alexander Hamilton among its members.
The original school was a one-room school house that held about 40 students. By the end of its term as a private institution, it had 7 schools and had educated literally thousands of girls and boys.
The school was founded just nine years after the society helped a state law be passed in 1785 that prohibited the sale of slaves imported into the state. The law also eased restriction on the manumission of Africans already committed to slavery. In 1835, African Free School was integrated into the public school system.
The school graduated some significant alumni, most notably Dr. James McCune Smith, a vocal abolitionist and the first African American to earn a medical degree. Other important alumni included actor Ira Aldridge; seafarer and abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet; minister and early Black nationalist Alexander Crummell; and engraver Patrick H. Reason.
Why This Is Important And Such a Milestone For Blacks:
It goes beyond the fact that before the creation of this school that slaves, freemen and their children were not educated. They existed solely on the language and the scraps of knowledge oozed down to them from other slaves and their "masters." They were unintentionally ignorant, unable to fend for themselves in a world that had already told them that not only were they undeserving of an education, freedom and rights but that they weren't intelligent enough to know what do with these things if they had them.
The creation of this school showed that someone out there, some people out there believed that not only did blacks in this country (the US) deserve their freedom but their independence, a right to a future, a right to educate themselves and their children. These people were doing more than just opening the door for blacks in this country to experience a new future, a new life, they were giving them the key to open all future doors. They were giving these children options, opportunities, choices.
They were freeing their minds and their spirits, which is sweeter than just freeing their bodies.
Do you have any thoughts on this or have some further knowledge about this piece of history?