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Advocacy

Throughout the South, African Americans became strong advocates of public schools. They saw tax-supported education for all children as the cornerstone of freedom and full citizenship. A Lynchburg teacher named Samuel Kelso, the son of slaves and a delegate to Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-68, introduced the state’s first resolution supporting free public schools for both races.

When the Lynchburg public school system began in 1871, it included a new school for black boys and girls on Jackson Street. The segregated public system gradually absorbed the freedmen’s schools.

Higher education also came to Central Virginia after the Civil War. By the 1890s, two institutions for African Americans had opened: Virginia Theological Seminary and College, originally called the Virginia Baptist Seminary, and the Virginia Collegiate and Industrial Institute, also known as the Morgan College Annex. Both of these institutions offered college preparatory work, teacher training, and vocational education. Virginia Seminary also offered a liberal arts curriculum, in response to the desire of many African Americans for classical learning.

Exhibit Item Groups

Higher Education
Self-Help and Advocacy
Philanthropy

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