W.E.B. Du Bois


January 1, 1917

What is to become of the secondary and higher Negro schools that are not smiled upon by the ring of rich philanthropists represented by the General Education Board and like agencies? These excluded schools are undoubtedly in many cases poorly equipped and indifferently managed. At the same time they are doing and have done the real work of the education of the Negro race. Their accomplishment both in volume and in real efficient result has been ten times that of Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes for the simple reason that they outnumber these schools 100 to 1 and deal with by far the greater number of the children of ten millions.

Instead then of being sneered at and discouraged, they ought to be encouraged, and it is little less than a shame that the United States government with the aid of Thomas Jesse Jones is (as we are assured) about to issue a definitive report recommending all sorts of things tending to extinguish these struggling institutions.

We are glad, however, that the National Training School, of Durham, North Carolina, despite this handicap, has paid her debt and has just held a conference of far-reaching importance on the subject of Negro education. Representatives of Negroes, South and North, and of white men, North and South, were on the program and all the visitors were firmly impressed with the wide influence of this school as a center of good work and with the indefatigable work of her president.

In the same way Atlanta University, long frowned upon because she persistently stood for the bigger things, is trying to raise on her fiftieth anniversary, a fund of $500,000. No school in the South has done a work for Negro uplift that can for a moment be compared with that of Atlanta University.

Fisk University, which has fortunately reached the edge of the approval of Organized Philanthropy, asks for a conservatory of music in memory of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The response to this appeal should be immediate and generous and should come from black people and white. We must rally to the defense of our schools. We must repudiate this unbearable assumption of the right to kill institutions unless they conform to one narrow standard.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1917. “Schools.” The Crisis 13 (3): 111–12.