The education and perception of african americans prior to 1861 Essay

The education and perception of african americans prior to 1861

         The African American race has been through a lot of challenges for hundreds of centuries. They have been deprived of their liberty and education, but they have overcome those situations and emerged victorious. Prior to the declaration of their liberty, they were treated as slaves and were regarded as an inferior race. They were never treated close to an equal, and they were perceived as unintelligent beings. Some would even go so far as to say that as slaves, they were mere chattels or possessions of their master. An amazing thing happened when several people wanted to make a difference; they stepped up and fought for the equalization of rights of these African Americans by making the world realize that they are at par with everybody else in all aspects and the color of their skin is not a valid basis for singling them out. African Americans are tough people because they are among the exceptional people who have endured a lot over the years, and as of today, many of them are doing well in life.

         When it comes to discussing how African Americans were perceived prior to 1861, the word slavery cannot be avoided. This system caused conflicts for many, so the government had no choice but to deal with the problem the national way. Several lengthy discussion, debates, and developments led to the enactment of the 13th Amendment which completely abolished the slavery on December 1865. Even though the hard part seemed to be over, that period in time left a deep scar in the hearts of the African Americans.[1]

         During the twenty-third anniversary of the proclamation of emancipation, Frederick Douglas spoke and said that in order for the African Americans to survive, it is necessary for them to be educated because it is very crucial as it could make the weak strong and equalize the treatments received by the Black people.[2]

         Before the age of awakening, the White people strongly rejected the thought of African Americans being educated, let alone going to the same school with them. Thus, the communities that gave education for African Americans had to prepare for a separate educational facility. An African American getting knowledgeable was too much of a thought for some to handle because they felt threatened and they cannot get over their feeling that Black is an inferior race and that they belong at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. In the north as well as the south, it was no surprise that African Americans did not acquire a very welcome reception because there was discrimination left and right. During the early ages, there were very few facilities that offered education. By the year 1861, there were twenty eight colleges offering education for African Americans.[3]

         High educational attainment is necessary for having a good life because individuals who belong to the lower ranks usually encounter difficulties in landing a good job for lack of adequate qualifications. This is the reason why it is so crucial for African Americans to be educated. This is among the many hurdles in life that the Black people have encountered during the course of time. They had to fight for their access to educational facilities, and when they got in, the education that they received was, more often than not, inferior and separated from the education provided for the White people. The education that they got was based on the perceptions of the White people and the general stereotype of the status symbol of the African Americans in the society. It cannot therefore be denied that during the early years of liberalization, the perception of the White people shaped the education that was acquired by the Blacks. Before the emancipation of the Blacks, the only learning they received was biblical education because their masters believed that filling their heart with scriptures would make them respect authorities and make them more faithful. The Civil War came and after that, the African American people were limited to acquiring the so-called “Negro jobs” which nowadays can be likened to blue collar jobs such as unskilled labor and basic domestic services. The Elites had the belief that their farming system would fall apart if the Blacks received equal educational opportunities. Because of this, they found ways to drain the funds for Black education. Upon urbanization came other educational opportunities for the African Americans to learn industrial skills that would be useful in factories. These events in history provides pieces of evidence that may lead one to conclude that the African Americans would not be qualified for a job not because of their alleged incompetence and low brain power but mainly because their lack of education was specifically designed to have them disqualified.[4]

         Achieving educational attainment is essential because it changed how the world sees African Americans. Getting a college degree enables them to acquire highly respected office positions. African Americans already experienced all kinds of discrimination, and most of the weight is felt by African American women. When the time came that African Americans were allowed to go to school and get their education, it somehow alleviated the discrimination that they felt. Even though the inequality has not been completely eliminated, education gave them a chance to make a decent living in a civilized world. Life was still hard for African American woman because just the thought of them getting a degree disgusted the Whites, and they viewed African American women as much inferior to the African American males whom they viewed as lower beings than them. It is a good thing that due to the change of time brought about by the influence of different cultures and several factors of modernization, the treatment given to African Americans has changed little by little. As of today, many of them, both males and females, occupy the most powerful positions in the world and are greatly respected and looked up to by people.

         African Americans worked hard to draft their own course in history. One of the most well known persons who fought hard for the rights of the Black people was Martin Luther King. He was a well-respected civil rights leader, and he became popular because of his unforgotten speech about how African Americans are the same as everybody else. His words about equal rights gave hope to his people. He was the person responsible for one of the most important landmarks in the African American history. If it were not for his contribution, things might not have been the same for the African American people.

Oprah Winfrey is also one of the most influential women in the world today. Among many things, she is a television host and a philanthropist, and survey says that she belongs to the top one hundred women of the world. These achievements are not the reason why she became famous, but it is her good heart that won the praise and admiration of millions of people all over the world. Individuals belonging to different race seek her advice and trust her decisions. Barack Obama, of both American and Kenyan heritage, became the 44th President of the United States. Being the President of the most powerful and influential country of the world, he is now considered as one of the most powerful man today.[5]

         The African American race has gained the well-deserve respect of people all over the world. As individuals and as a whole nation, they have proved that they can rise to the occasion and make a difference. They have once been underestimated, but over the course of time, they have proved many people wrong. The race once thought of as inferior is now deemed as an equal in all aspects of life. It cannot be denied that the racial discrimination has not been completely eradicated, but the treatment that African Americans receive nowadays is so much better than the treatment that they got prior to 1861.

         There is a saying that those people who are brave enough to think that they might make a difference in the world are usually the ones who do.[6] This statement holds true for everybody, most especially for the African American race. If it were not for the brave individuals who dared to make very bold steps and fight for their rights, history might not be the same and things may not be what they are today. Fighting for equal rights was not easy, but they overcome it. Getting a chance at education was quite impossible because of the negativism of others but the African Americans conquered it, and now, many of them occupy highly- respected positions in the society. Indeed, African Americans have proven that the color of the skin is not as important as the size of the heart.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“5 Most Influential People in the Past 10 Years.” Born to Redefine, 2008, http://www.borntoredefine.com/5-most-influential-people-in-the-past-10-years/ (accessed June 11, 2009).

Lomotey, Kofi. Going to School: The African-American Experience. New York: State of University New York Press, 1990.

Jones-Wilson, Faustine Childress and others, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Education. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood  Press, 1996.

Smith, Roger. “The Importance of Education to Black America and Black History,” Black History Site, 2004, http://blackhistorysite.net/article1007_3.html (accessed June 11, 2009).

Sylvester, Melvin. “The African American: A Journey from Slavery to Freedom” Long Island University, 1998, http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/aaslavry.htm (accessed June 11, 2009).

[1] Melvin Sylvester, “The African American: A Journey from Slavery to Freedom,” Long Island University, 1998, http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/aaslavry.htm (accessed June 11, 2009)
[2] Roger Smith, “The Importance of Education to Black America and Black History,” Black History Site, 2004, http://blackhistorysite.net/article1007_3.html (accessed June 11, 2009)
[3] Faustine Childress Jones-Wilson and others, eds. Encyclopedia of African-American Education, (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood  Press, 1996)., 431.
[4] Kofi Lomotey, Going to School: The African-American Experience, (Buffalo: NY:  State University of New York Press, 1990),  124-125
[5] “5 Most Influential People in the past 10 Years, Born to Redefine, 2008, http://www.borntoredefine.com/5-most-influential-people-in-the-past-10-years/ (accessed June 11, 2009)
[6] Ibid