Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Second Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Rita Roberts

Reader 2

Mark Golub

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Rights Information

© 2016 Chandra R Dickey

Abstract

By the late nineteenth century, white northern missionary societies established a variety of higher education institutions with the premise of educating African Americans. In Atlanta, three of these institutions, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Atlanta University, were heralded—by the aforementioned missionary societies and by some African Americans across the country—for their liberal arts curriculums. The often white founders believed the colleges were assimilatory institutions, hoping black students would lead their own communities, but did not believe blacks would become political or social leaders in greater society. In comparison, African American founders desired eventual control over the institutions, and wanted graduates—and the larger black community—to be treated as citizens with the same rights as whites. Additionally, African American organizations outside of the schools were concerned with securing black safety, socio-economic stability, and education. Thus, instead of being the assimilatory institutions their white founders desired, the colleges were integral to improving the social, political, and economic status of African Americans. However, unlike African Americans outside of the institutions, the schools did not operate under a specific political agenda, and the desires of the institution’s white founders and the African American community surrounding the schools often conflicted.

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