The African-American population is unique in that its educational history includes as law and public policy the systematic, long-term denial of the acquisition of knowledge. In the 18th century, African-Americans were initially legally forbidden to be taught academic subjects in the South, where most African-Americans lived. This period, which ended around 1865 with the conclusion of the Civil War and the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau, was followed by the introduction of laws, policies, and practices providing for rudimentary education for 69 years under the dual-school, separate-but-equal policies established by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). These policies did not end until the Brown v. Board of Education decisions of 1954 and 1955 were reinforced by the passage of civil rights and equal opportunity legislation in the mid-1960s.
The education of African-Americans has been a continuing moral, political, legal, economic, and psychological issue throughout this country's history. It continues to consume time and attention, and it remains an unresolved dilemma for the nation. Through several hundred alphabetically arranged entries, this indispensable reference offers a comprehensive overview of significant issues, policies, historical events, laws, persons, and theories related to African-American education from the early years of this country to the present day. The entries are written by expert contributors, and each entry includes a bibliography of works for further reading. A selected, general bibliography concludes the volume.