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As battles over school desegregation helped define a generation of civil rights activism in the United States, a less heralded yet equally important movement emerged in Chicago. Following World War II, an unprecedented number of African Americans looked beyond the issue of racial integration by creating their own schools. This golden age of private education gave African Americans unparalleled autonomy to avoid discriminatory public schools and to teach their children in the best ways they saw fit.
In Schools of Our Own, Worth Kamili Hayes recounts how a diverse contingent of educators, nuns, and political activists embraced institution building as the most effective means to attain quality education. He chronicles the extraordinary measures they employed to secure what many in the United States took for granted. Even as the golden age came to an end, it foreshadowed the complex and sometimes controversial reform efforts of the twenty-first century.
Schools of Our Own makes a fascinating addition to scholarly debates about education, segregation, African American history, and Chicago, still relevant in contemporary debates about the fate of American public schooling.
WORTH KAMILI HAYES is an associate professor of history at Tuskegee University. He was previously the acting chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Criminal Justice at Benedict College. He was the recipient of a UNCF/Mellon Junior Faculty award as well as the Timuel D. Black Jr. Short-Term Fellowship in African-American Studies.
“Schools of Our Own is an important contribution that extends our understanding of the development of education in Chicago and the agency and self-determination of black Chicagoans.” —Christopher Span, author of From Cotton Field to Schoolhouse
“Schools of Our Own is an important historical contribution exploring the diversity of black private schools. It serves as a missing piece of the historical puzzle, perfectly nestled between what we already know about black education in Chicago.” —Dionne Danns, author of Desegregating Chicago’s Public Schools