Freedmen's Schools

By: Kenni Czarnecki and Haley Burke

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This is a picture of teacher and her students at a freedmen's school. Notice how the kid in the front look younger compared to the kids in the back. That was because at the Freedmen's School adults and children of different ages went there.

Why did African American’s go to Freedmen’s Schools?

In the United States before the Civil War people had slaves. Slaves did not get the education like the other people did. But after the Civil War African Americans now had equal rights so that they could be free. Now with their freedom, most African Americans wanted to learn how to read and write. That's what the freedmen’s schools were sit up to do. The adults who went to the Freedmen’s School was because they had a family of their own and learning how to read and write would help them with jobs. Another reason why the adults went to those schools was because they wanted to know how to read and understand their labor contracts and other legal documents. The children who went their, would sometimes come home and teach their parents how to read and write at home. The purpose of these songs was to help set up education for the newly free African Americans.

Where Were Some of the Freedmen’s Schools Located?

One of the earliest Freedmen’s Schools was in June, 1865. Located in Richmond, VA.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, missionary associations and African Americans funded the schools themselves. They had these classes in warehouses, billiard rooms, and in former slave markets. And in other places they held classes in churches or in privates houses.

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This is a freedmen's school class. You may also have noticed the school is very small, that is because schools back then only had one room along with only one teacher that had to teach all of the kids, and in this case the adults as well..


You may think that only African Americans could teach in freedmen's school, however that is not the case. White or black, it did not matter what color you were, could teach inn the school.

During reconstruction, out of the 600 teachers in freedmen's school, more than one fifth of them were from Georgia, and fifty of them were white. A quarter of the teachers were African Americans, and more than half were were Georgians, or from Georgia.

Many of the teachers didn't even finish high school, and some of the Norther teachers went to a secondary college. Secondary colleges are community colleges or independent colleges.

Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington is a college at Hampton University. That was founded during reconstruction after the Civil War. It was also one of the first African American colleges during reconstruction. Booker T. Washington was also a very famous African American. He was born a slave on a farm in Virginia. He was the voice for former slaves.
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The picture above is Booker T. Washington

Struggles of the freedmen's schools

Some of the struggles to keep the freedmen's school going is that many whites did not agree with were the school was located or did not want African Americans to be educated. What they would do is burn down the building. Another problem was the teachers would be killed for teaching at these schools.
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As you can see this freedmen's school is being burnt down by whites.

Success of the freedmen's schools

The greatest success of the schools were they brought free education to those who could not afford to pay for it. By 1869 more than 3,000 freedmen's schools were set up in the South and more than 150,000 student went to these schools. The average attendance rate in the South was between 79 and 89 percent. The success of the school establishment in the South had much to do with the freedmen's desire to be educated, and General Howard’s wish was to make the freedmen's school a permanent government division.

Haley's Reaction

I'm really glad the African Americans slaves got to be free now. But it was a very ugly way how it got to be that way. The Civil War was a very bloody battle at least one million people were ether hurt or dead. But the reconstruction was meant to help rebuild the U.S mainly the South though. It was hard for me to understand why it took so long for white Americans to accept/understand that African Americans were human beings just like they are. Even though African Americans were no longer slaves and had their rights, people were still treating them badly. Such as the KKK they would just go on the streets and beat up people, which was very wrong. I have enjoyed learning about the Freedmen's School, knowing that people wanted to help others with education says a lot especially in the time period because people didn't really respect them at all. They were now able to read and write. It was a little scary knowing that their were adults in the class along with younger kids. But I kind of took that as a sign as they were willing to read and write no matter how old they are.

Kenni's Reaction

If I was an African American who has just heard the great news that I was freed and could started living my life as a "normal" person, than I would think that I would be able to go to school just like every other white person. However that is not the case in this time period. I am amazed that the people at this time period thought that African Americans shouldn't have an education, and that they would get so mad that they might even burn down a school or kill the teacher at the school. I also though it was interesting that adults went to the schools, and sat in the class room with the kids, but I guess they would want an education just as much as any other person would in this time. I am glade that know every one has equal rights. And If you think about it, it is kind of embarrassing that people thought that just because of your color, it would makes you an out cast and the most of the world would hate you. This project makes be think about how it is a privileged to go to school, because there are many people in the world today who don't even know how to spell the word dog. "Thank you America for finally looking past what color skin a person has and making equal rights."