Resistance, control, and the cost of unity: The role of African Americans in the founding of African American schools associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the South, 1865--1914

Lawrence A. Q Burnley, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Like other Protestant organizations in the United States, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was involved in the establishment of schools for African Americans in the South in the years following the end of the Civil War. The most widely read books offering an interpretation of the history of this church tend to relegate the role of Black people to passive recipients of White benevolence and largesse in this process of education reform. This study examines the agency of African Americans in the founding of educational institutions for Blacks associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The philosophical discourse within the Christian Church concerning the purpose, type, and control of these schools is examined as well as the prevailing racial assumptions and attitudes that informed each of these areas. ^ Utilizing historical methods to reconstruct and interpret socio-historical phenomena, I examined published and unpublished primary sources as well as a wide range of secondary source material. As a result of my research, I argue that African Americans within the Christian Church played an active role, both in cooperating with Disciples' mission agencies, and acting independent of these agencies, in the conceptualization and founding of schools for their communities. In addition, contrary to Disciples' reformers claim of being motivated by their desire to "elevate the Negro race," the nearly exclusive application of the industrial model of education in schools established by the Disciples of Christ mission agencies for African Americans reflects an intentional effort by Whites within this movement to encumber African American efforts to achieve socioeconomic and political advancement, autonomy, and self-determination. Finally, the conservative approach to schooling for African Americans was largely the result of northern Disciples' acquiescence to the demands of southern members of the church for the sake of maintaining unity within the national church. ^

Subject Area

History, Black|History, Church|Education, History of

Recommended Citation

Lawrence A. Q Burnley, "Resistance, control, and the cost of unity: The role of African Americans in the founding of African American schools associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the South, 1865--1914" (January 1, 2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3211044.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3211044

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