Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women's educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators--despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies--contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.
Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women's philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women's collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America's institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.
"Provides scholars with a historical lens from which to view the higher education of black women . . . [and] how one generation of black women benefited from the work and sacrifices of the prior generation."--Adah L. Ward Randolph, Ohio University
"Keen historical and theoretical observation of African American women's relationship to educational institutions in the United States."--Heidi Lasley Barajas, University of Minnesota
"Historians have begun to take seriously black women's roles in aiding their communities by waging battles for social injustice. Evans's book does the important work of taking just as seriously the intellectual contributions of early black women scholars."
--Georgia Historical Quarterly
American Historical Review
American Library Association's CHOICE
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Flavour Magazine: Black Florida Life and Style
Gender and Education
Georgia Historical Quarterly
History of Education Quarterly
H-Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (S-SHGAPE)
H-Southern Association for Women Historians (H-SAWH)
Inside Higher Education
International Journal of Women's Studies
Journal of American History
Journal of American Ethnic History
Journal of Southern History
National Education Association's THOUGHT & ACTION
North Carolina Historical Review
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Signs: Journal of Women and Cultural and Society
Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society
For book reviews by Stephanie Evans, visit The Evans Review.
Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators--despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies--contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.
Professor of Black Women's Studies
Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans