The founding of the USA changed the education landscape in America in the 1800s. Americans took control of their education system from the colonialists. State governments took control of the colonial colleges. Consequently, the US enjoyed college boom in the late 1800s as a result of changes in economic and industrial activities. This was to prepare the states to take control of their own affairs.
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During this period, education became accessible to all. However, the Southern Blacks did not have equal access to education as their Northern counterparts. This is because the whites who controlled Southern Blacks and most of the resources did not acknowledgment Blacks’ rights immediately. Consequently, their demographic and economic conditions remained almost constant before mid 1800s (Riesman, 1956).
Southern Blacks access to education remained low. They were unlikely to participate in higher education for a number of reasons. Most of the blacks worked in the farms as farmers or farm laborers. Southern Blacks also worked as unskilled laborers in other sectors of the economy.
At the same time, most of the Blacks did not own homes and majority occupied rural areas in the South. Thus, by mid 1800s, most Blacks still worked as farm laborers with no access to education due to their economic situations (Margo, 1990).
During this period, Southern Blacks had restricted legal rights too. This was the period of segregation in the South. Segregation created a system of separate services and facilities between Whites and Blacks. There were also laws such as Jim Craw laws of 1900s, which further restricted Blacks access to education. Black schools did not experience changes as did their White counterparts.
Consequently, there were serious decline in the education standards among Southern Black. This happened because of poor school facilities and resources. In short, Southern Blacks did not access education in 1800s due to poor economic conditions and restrictive and segregation laws that only favored Whites.
Americans institutions of higher learning experienced changes as a result of formation of the United States of America. The state governments took control of schools. Consequently, college reputations improved with charters that favored development of higher education.
The period of 1800s marked a college boom in America. However, these schools experienced funding difficulties and closure rate increased. This is because most of the colleges depended on funding from students and local donors. The unprecedented growth in commerce and industries increased funding for higher education.
There were varieties of colleges in the mid nineteenth century. Churches emerged in support of higher education particularly among Blacks of the South. A part from churches, there were also groups that founded and supported higher education learning among Southern Blacks.
Colleges of higher learning included scientific schools, medical schools, independent law schools, agricultural and engineering schools. Most of these schools depended on local donors in supporting higher learning activities (Riesman, 1956).
Most Americans institutions of higher learning taught languages and liberal arts for the award of a degree qualification. However, as we have mentioned above, several freestanding disciplines emerged within a formal education. Drawbacks to higher education degree at the time were that most professions, and employers did not look for highly qualified professionals because many jobs did not require a higher degree of specialization.
Most Blacks benefited as higher learning institutions increased under churches and other organizations. These opportunities created Blacks that later fought for recognition of the Blacks civil rights.
Towards the end of 1800s, the living conditions of the Blacks changed dramatically as economic status improved and segregation declined. Blacks continued to access higher learning opportunities. Consequently, education they acquired led to various achievements in society.
A number of them moved out of Southern area into urban centers where they looked for white-collar and blue-collar jobs. These changes resulted into home ownership among the Southern Blacks. As a result, their rates of attending institutions of higher learning had increased tremendously. However, not all Southern Blacks had equal access to education, home ownership and labor markets.
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Federal rules also created favorable conditions for Black Americans to receive higher learning education, though with diverse results. Specifically, in 1890, the Morrill Act made provision for funding of Black institutions of higher education.
Consequently, this led to the establishment of Black colleges in most of the Southern states. However, racial segregation still remained a critical challenge to funding and improving of Black colleges.
Education created and provided opportunities for Black Americans to have significant contributions in economy, politics, and social lives of American society. Higher education opened new opportunities for most Blacks in the South. Black Americans began to seek equal rights as their White counterparts. Education made Blacks organize their ideas and thoughts.
Consequently, thorough planning led them to engage in active demand for their rights and express other grievances. For instance, there were Black scholars who expressed their dissatisfactions through literature, other forms of writing, music and other forms of expressions. There were also Blacks who contributed in economic developments, industrial discoveries, inventions and leadership (Marshall, 1965).
Margo, R. (1990). Race and Schooling in the South, 1880-1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Marshall, R. (1965). The Negro and Organized Labor. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Riesman, D. (1956). The Academic Procession: Constraint and Variety in American Higher Education. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.