Educating African Americans has been a controversial subject since their arrival in America in 1619. In the antebellum South, educating enslaved Blacks was illegal. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, White groups debated the educational fate of freed Blacks. In 1890 and 1891 at two conferences in Lake Mohonk, New York, and in a series of annual meetings known as the Capon Springs Conferences, White businessmen, political figures, philanthropists, missionaries, and other interested parties considered the “Negro Question” to determine what educational programs for Blacks would best serve White interests. A salient feature of these meetings was the absence of Blacks.

These gatherings had similar results—a consensus to promote industrial education for Blacks. A goal of the industrial model was to maintain the southern ...

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