Episode 8, Season 4
Historian Tera Hunter describes Black institution-building post-slavery and throughout the Jim Crow era, illustrating how Black workers reorganized labor to their advantage, despite virulent white resistance. During the same period, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) produced future leaders while cultivating resistance to white supremacy—and continue to do so. Educator Jelani Favors explains the evolution of these institutions, noting their legacies of social activism and student advocacy.
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- Learning for Justice Lesson, What Counts as History? (grades 6-8, 9-12)
- Learning for Justice Article, Teach This: HBCUs Are Not Pioneers of School Choice
- Learning for Justice Student Text, Meet Hiram Rhodes Revels (grades 3-5)
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: One reason I love living in Columbus, Ohio—in addition to Buckeye football, of course—is the airport. Seriously, it's the airport. The John Glenn Columbus International Airport—CMH.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: First, the Columbus airport is only 12 minutes from downtown. Second, you can park your car for just $7 a day. Just $7 a day! And third, you can usually get through TSA in less than 10 minutes.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: But the John Glenn Airport isn't perfect. Good eats? Nope! Just pizza and fake Philly cheesesteaks. And direct flights? Not nearly enough. John Glenn isn't a hub, making connections necessary. So when I fly out of Columbus, I do two things: I never eat there, and I try to route my connecting flights through Atlanta. Now why Atlanta? It's that whole two-birds-with-one-stone thing. I have to connect someplace, and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport has some good eats. And I mean some good eats!
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: My favorite place to grab a bite at Atlanta airport is Paschal's. Paschal's serves traditional soul food: fried chicken, mac and cheese, candied yams, collard greens, cornbread. Every bite, delicious. And every bite, a bit of history too.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: The original Paschal's was a 30-seat luncheonette that opened in 1947 in a segregated Black neighborhood near downtown Atlanta. The owners were a pair of brothers, James and Robert Paschal. Their shop was an immediate success. Black patrons loved the good food, and they also appreciated the good service. As a Black-owned restaurant, African Americans were treated with dignity. None of that Jim Crow "You can buy lunch here, but you can't eat here" nonsense.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In the 1950s, the Paschal brothers expanded their restaurant using an $85,000 loan from Black-owned Citizens Trust Bank. In 1960, they added a jazz lounge that featured headliners like Aretha Franklin and Dizzy Gillespie. And in 1967, they built a six-story, 120-room motel, making Paschal's the first Black-owned hotel in Atlanta.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Paschal's has always served good food, but during the Jim Crow era, it was more than a restaurant—it was a vital community institution. Paschal's provided jobs for hundreds of African Americans, including students from the nearby Black colleges: Morehouse and Spelman. It also provided meeting space for the civil rights movement. Sit-in protesters met at Paschal's to map strategy. And Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lieutenants gathered there to plan the Poor People's Campaign.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: The recipe for Paschal's famous fried chicken is a secret, but the recipe for its success during the Jim Crow era is not. Paschal's served the Black community as an autonomous Black space, helping African Americans not only survive Jim Crow, but also thrive despite Jim Crow. And African Americans rewarded them with their patronage.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Paschal's was typical of Black institutions during the Jim Crow era. Places such as Citizens Trust Bank, which provided the brothers with the capital they needed to expand, did more than simply ply their trade. From restaurants and banks to churches and colleges, Black institutions helped to topple Jim Crow one meal at a time, one loan at a time, one Sunday service at a time, one literature class at time.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: So when you find yourself traveling through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, take the train to Terminal B, turn right at the top of the escalator, and go get you some good eats—with a side of history—from Paschal's. And be sure to tell them that Hasan sent you.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I'm Hasan Kwame Jeffries, and this is Teaching Hard History. We're a production of Learning for Justice—the education arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This season, we're offering a detailed look at how to teach the history of Jim Crow, starting with Reconstruction. In each episode, we explore a different topic, walking you through historical concepts, raising questions for discussion, suggesting useful source material and offering practical classroom exercises.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In this episode, we examine Black institution-building during the Jim Crow era. First, we discuss the changing nature of work after emancipation. Historian Tera Hunter explains how Black workers reorganized labor to their advantage, despite virulent white resistance.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Then we turn our attention to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Professor Jelani Favors walks us through the evolution of HBCUs, and their role in producing generations of leaders, and in resisting white supremacy.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: First, here's my co-host Bethany Jay, in conversation with Dr. Tera Hunter. I'm glad you could join us.
Bethany Jay: Tera, I'm so happy that you could be here with us on the Teaching Hard History podcast. For those who don't know, Tera Hunter is the Edwards professor of American history and professor of African-American studies at Princeton University. She's also the author of To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War, and Bound in Wedlock—her newer book—Slave and Free Black Marriage in the 19th Century, which has won numerous prestigious awards. And like I said, I'm very excited to talk to you today. You were the first person who came to mind when we conceived of this episode, mostly because I am constantly waving To 'Joy My Freedom at my historiography students who want to write about this era. So you were right at the top of my mind. [laughs]
Tera Hunter: Thank you so much, Bethany. I really appreciate that. And thanks for inviting me.
Bethany Jay: As we think about the post-Emancipation era, one of the big questions that emerges is what is labor going to look like? Can you set the scene for us a bit about the different expectations for free Black labor at this time?
Tera Hunter: So I think it's important to think about this period in terms of a kind of contest of wills with former slave owners—whites in general, not just slave owners, but whites in general—really trying to hold on to the old institution as much as possible, while African Americans were trying to create something new, something liberatory. And so you have employers and landowners trying to have complete control over the kind of labor African Americans are doing, how they perform that labor, whereas African Americans were more interested in what kind of system of labor would advance their own economic and political and social interests. They wanted autonomy. They wanted to be able to take care of themselves. They wanted to be physically safe from violence.
Tera Hunter: African Americans' greatest aspirations in terms of their economic lives was that they wanted to be landowners. Only a relative few of them were able to achieve that. Rural workers were mostly reduced to a form of tenant farming—they became sharecroppers. Or they moved to Southern cities where they could have more freedom, and not be under the thumb of landowners or systems of debt that tied them to landowners year after year.
Bethany Jay: One of the interesting ways to understand this period is looking at the Freedman's Bureau, who are sort of in the middle of this contest of wills, as you say. What are some of the ways that the Freedman's Bureau negotiates this moment?
Tera Hunter: Yeah, so they're definitely seen as sort of mediators. Initially, they're providing a lot of relief for basically all Southerners in the form of food and shelter and clothing, because we're talking about the economy having been destroyed by the Civil War. We're talking about infrastructure in disarray. And so there's a lot of desperation across classes, but especially among poor people. And so the bureau fills in the gaps by providing aid to people across race and class. They help to reunite families in terms of African Americans. They kind of serve as a bureau for people to go to when they're looking for family members that they've been separated from either during the war or before the war. And one of their major roles is to negotiate contracts, and this is where things get really tricky because they're negotiating between landowners and African Americans. And on the one hand, they are trying to prevent the landowners from essentially reinstalling slavery.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: And using corporal punishment. But at the same time, they want African Americans to stay where they are, you know, on the plantations and work. And so they're sort of jockeying between being advocates for African Americans, but also ultimately wanting to revive the Southern economy, and wanting African Americans to return to work. African Americans are reorganizing their labor in a way that is to their own advantage. And so one of the concessions that they win is the ability to organize their labor in family groups as opposed to indiscriminate gangs, which is what landowners initially prefer. They just want, you know, bodies in the field picking cotton, or whatever the crop is. Whereas African Americans were much more conscious of trying to organize in family units so that they could control the labor. They could decide, you know, who should be in the fields and when they should be in the fields. And so they chose to have women, you know, work in a flexible way so that they did field work, but also they could take time to take care of their children or cook dinner or whatever they needed to do for the family. So laboring for the family was an important component to African Americans that the landowners do not appreciate at all. They called it "Playing the lady."
Bethany Jay: Yes.
Tera Hunter: You know, Black women were trying to pretend like they were white women by what they call "withdrawing" from the fields, even though they weren't wholesale leaving the fields. They were just being very strategic about the labor that they did in the fields versus the labor that they did for their families.
Bethany Jay: And in so many of those instances you see people describing these women as idle.
Tera Hunter: Exactly.
Bethany Jay: And I think you show me a woman with several children, you know, and a house to maintain who's idle. I don't think so. Yeah.
Tera Hunter: Right. She's idle, she's playing the lady, she's just laying around, you know, being pretty.
Bethany Jay: Right.
Tera Hunter: And not doing the kind of hard labor that she is fit for, according to the kind of, you know, racist ideology that prevailed.
Bethany Jay: We often start with and focus on that rural experience because, you know, it's a huge part of this era. But I like shifting that focus to the urban environment because it provides a really different look at this moment. And in particular, we can look at the experiences of Black women in some detail. What are some of the challenges that confronted urban Black women and their labor during this time?
Tera Hunter: Well, in the cities men have more opportunities for diverse employment in various manufacturing plants such as tobacco and textile mills and transportation. Enterprises in municipal jobs as longshoremen, as lumber yard workers and so on. For African-American men, some of them were able to continue in skilled jobs as they had during the antebellum period, especially as carpenters, as brick masons, as coopers. And there were some, a small number that formed their own businesses as grocers, especially and draymen.
Tera Hunter: And for African-American women, the choices were more limited. Mostly, they were working as domestic workers. They mostly worked as domestic workers in private homes. In some cases they worked in hotels and boarding houses doing domestic work. And then a relative few were able to branch out as skilled workers, such as seamstresses, tailors and hat makers. And it's important to note also that Black women worked more than white women in wage work because men's wages, Black men's wages were so low. And so—and that was by design, because one of the contests over labor had to do with trying to basically enforce all African Americans to work: women, men as well as children. And so we see that men aren't paid sufficiently to be able to take care of their families, which then means that women have to work in wage employment.
Tera Hunter: And also in the cities, we have a disproportionate number of single women, widowed women, divorced women. These are women who are having to support themselves and their families, even though the majority of women are in families and married to men, there is still a disproportionate number that are basically working on their own.
Bethany Jay: Women who were working in domestic service inside white homes were still having a hard time getting people to treat them as free laborers in this time period. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Tera Hunter: Sure. So domestic work was also very contested. So even though African-American women were very restricted to, you know, domestic work occupations, they also were very insistent on trying to carve out as much autonomy as they could, as much respect and dignity as they could. They spoke up when they felt that they weren't being treated fairly. They tried to negotiate the best terms that they could for better wages. They tried to speak up when they were being treated in disrespectful ways or being assigned unpleasant tasks. So there was a lot of contest over the nature of domestic work. What tasks should they be responsible for doing? You know, what their hours per day or per week should be? Those kinds of things. And when negotiations failed, they had their own strategies, and one important strategy was that they quit.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: And sometimes the women who were in the most demand could use it as leverage, to be able to play employers against one another to increase their wages or improve their conditions, to force concessions. Quitting could not necessarily guarantee better conditions, but it was a very effective strategy in depriving employers of having complete control over Black women's labor. And in the absence of having time off, they would quit for temporary periods to be able to juggle other kinds of responsibilities for their families, especially women who were mothers. And so this was something that employers constantly complained about, that they couldn't keep good workers, that women would just quit for no good reason, you know, as far as they could tell.
Bethany Jay: Right. It's funny, I was just teaching the diary entries of Gertrude Thomas right after the Civil War, when she's complaining about how she doesn't understand why all of her staff is quitting.
Tera Hunter: Right.
Bethany Jay: We see that over and over and over again. And then sometimes those women end up going to—or their husbands go to the Freedman's Bureau and try to get them to intervene in this sort of domestic labor peace. We're used to thinking about the Freedman's Bureau with rural labor, but they're also active in urban areas like this.
Tera Hunter: Yes, exactly. And also, I mean, that was a positive thing actually when they went to the Freedman's Bureau because sometimes they took a much more retaliatory route of, you know, trying to punish Black women who quit. There were cases of women being brutalized, especially by the men in the households when they were seen as disobedient to the white women. And then sometimes the white families went to the Ku Klux Klan. And so here is a report from a Black legislator in Georgia describing one such situation. He says, "Many times, you know, a white lady has a colored lady for a cook or waiting in the house or something of that sort. They have some quarrel, and sometimes probably the colored woman gives the lady a little jaw," meaning that, you know, she's talking back.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: "And in a night or two, a crowd will come in and take her out and whip her."
Bethany Jay: Hmm.
Tera Hunter: So that document is taken from testimony provided by Alfred Richardson. He was a legislator in Georgia, and he was testifying before the congressional committee investigating Ku Klux Klan violence in the South during Reconstruction.
Bethany Jay: And that is taken from your book To 'Joy My Freedom, correct?
Tera Hunter: Yes. And you can find more information in my book, To 'Joy My Freedom. So essentially, they're calling on vigilante violence when they were upset by women's actions, or when women didn't conform to the behaviors that they wanted them to conform to.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This is Teaching Hard History, and I'm Hasan Kwame Jeffries. We prepare detailed show notes for each episode of this podcast, so that you can use what you learn here in the classroom. You'll find relevant resources, as well as a full transcript, complete with links to materials mentioned by our guests. You can find them at LearningForJustice.org/podcasts. Let's return now to Bethany's conversation with Tera Hunter.
Bethany Jay: There's also some legal measures that are taken in order to enforce a particular set of work expectations. Can you talk with us a little bit about those laws and legislation that had passed?
Tera Hunter: Sure. So after the Civil War, Southern legislatures passed discriminatory laws to limit the freedoms of African Americans. They criminalized freed people for various infractions. And one of the most notorious of these kinds of laws were vagrancy laws, which employers capitalized on. People were charged with being vagrants if they were perceived to be not working during regular work hours. They could also apply to people who were engaged in a variety of activities that white people simply disapproved of. They wanted to continue to have control over their lives, not just at work, but also outside of work.
Tera Hunter: African Americans are going to, you know, play pool or they're going to beer saloons. They're going to play cards or gamble or eat and drink and dance. And employers in particular were very disturbed by these kinds of activities because they saw all of these activities as being distractions from work. Again, they're trying to control not just their labor during work hours, but also what they do outside of work. And as far as employers were concerned, they should be resting to get ready for the next day of work as opposed to, you know, out partying or going to a movie when the movies arrive or, you know, vaudeville shows or whatever kinds of activities they're participating in.
Bethany Jay: They go so far as sometimes to raid these different places and throw people in jail, right?
Tera Hunter: Mm-hmm. Exactly. Exactly. Those who were charged with vagrancy could be arrested. They could be charged with fines, put in jail, and in some cases, put on the chain gang to work.
Tera Hunter: So here is an example of a Black code in Mississippi, which was passed in December, 1865. "Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Mississippi that all rogues and vagabonds, idle and dissipated persons, beggars, jugglers or persons practicing unlawful games or plays, runaways, common drunkards, common night walkers, pilferers, lewd, wanton or lascivious persons in speech or behavior, common railers and brawlers, persons who neglect their calling or employment, misspend what they earn or do not provide for the support of themselves or their families." That's my favorite part. "Or dependents. And all other idle and disorderly persons, including all who neglect all lawful business, habitually misspend their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses or tippling shops, shall be deemed and considered vagrants under the provisions of this Act." And it goes on.
Bethany Jay: That's fairly broad in its language, I would say.
Tera Hunter: Which is the whole point.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: To be as vague as possible, to allow the most room for prosecution.
Bethany Jay: And then as you say, people who are taken up as vagrants are then generally forced to labor without compensation.
Tera Hunter: Exactly. Right. So it's a way for employers to basically take advantage of and use public laws for their private gain.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm. You focus a lot in your book To 'Joy My Freedom on washerwomen. And this group of women seems to be particularly useful as a lens into this moment because, if I'm correct, part of the reason why women take on work as washerwomen is because it provides them a little bit more autonomy. Can you talk to us a little bit about that particular occupation, and why so many women were drawn to it?
Tera Hunter: Sure. So one of the things to know about this period is African-American women, for those who chose domestic work, they refuse by and large to live in with their employers. And so that's a very distinctive post-emancipation demand that they're making to be able to live in their own homes, to be able to avoid the kind of 24 hours a day, seven days a week requirements that that entailed, and also the sexual exploitation that often accompanied living in with employers. And so washerwomen chose to avoid that type of domestic work, working in the private homes altogether, even during the day because it gave them more autonomy. They were totally self-supervised because they picked up the laundry from their employers, from essentially their customers, and then brought it back to their homes. It allowed them to enlist the participation of family members—children especially—and it allowed them to intersperse working, doing the laundry, along with other kinds of responsibilities that they had for child care. And they conducted the labor, when weather permitted, outside and often in communal spaces. And so this allowed them to conduct the labor, you know, in community with other African-American women, and provided opportunities for them to socialize with other women. And so this gave them the most autonomy in distancing themselves from the kind of control that employers of more conventional domestic workers tried to assert.
Bethany Jay: Yeah, it sort of changes that relationship from an employer-employee to more of a client relationship.
Tera Hunter: Exactly.
Bethany Jay: As much as possible. Can you talk to us a little bit about the Washing Society strike of 1881?
Tera Hunter: Black workers, both women and men, were part of many of the labor mobilizations that were happening during Reconstruction and afterwards in cities—especially across the South. There were protests or strikes by various groups of workers, including domestic workers, in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1866, in Galveston, Texas, in 1877, and then in Atlanta in 1881.
Tera Hunter: The Atlanta strike was organized by the Washing Society, and this was a kind of mutual aid organization that focused on labor issues, and improving the wages and the conditions of the women. And gaining respect for their labor and respect for the autonomy that they enjoyed.
Tera Hunter: These were workers who today we would call "essential labor" because the city literally could not get by without their work. There were no washing machines. You know, the laundry was done by hand, so private white homes depended on the labor of these women. Businesses depended on the labor of these women.
Tera Hunter: And so the women got together in 1881, and there were brief moments even before back in the 1870s when they had thought about organizing. But in 1881, they got together and they capitalized on those communal spaces where they did the laundry. And they began to organize. They begin to mobilize supporters and other strikers by going door to door, you know, asking the other washerwomen to join the strike. They held meetings in churches throughout the city to bring people together to talk about the issues. And they grew in size. They started with maybe 20, and they ended up having a few thousand strikers and supporters. And this turns out to be the most successful strike of domestic workers in the South, and also the most successful strike up to that point in the history of the city of Atlanta. And their opponents really underestimated their ability to organize and mobilize.
Bethany Jay: The strike was organized around the International Cotton Exposition that was coming to Atlanta. Am I right about that?
Tera Hunter: Well, the formal strike had ended before the Exposition, but the women threatened another strike. So they threatened a general strike, not just the washerwomen, but all the domestic workers at the time that the Cotton Exposition was scheduled to be held. So that was really shrewd on their part because again, their labor is essential. The city is hosting this major event. It's kind of like a coming-out party for the city of Atlanta as, like, the capital of the new South.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: So they're trying to showcase to capitalists throughout the country and the world that, you know, look at us, we're a great city, we're progressive, we're trying to move forward, we're trying to industrialize, we're trying to, you know, sort of remake the Southern economy in these more modern ways. And we also have a workforce that we can control. And you have these women who are really challenging all these myths that they're constructing about the new South. Now they actually don't end up calling the strike, but it's the threat that I think is so important because it just demonstrated that they had a kind of symbolic power that they could exercise to make their voices heard.
Bethany Jay: What were the responses of the white community to these strikes and the threats of strikes on the part of domestic workers?
Tera Hunter: So they came up with a lot of different tactics. Individual landlords threatened to raise the rent of women who were involved in the strike. There was a group of businessmen who got together and they said that they were going to raise money to create a steam laundry that would be competition for these women. Of course, the absurdity of that is that this is not something that can materialize in any immediate way, but thinking long-term, they were suggesting that essentially these women needed to be put out of business. But that's also ironic because Southerners really didn't adopt the technology as quickly as they did in the North, precisely because they wanted to use the labor of Black women, to continue to use manual labor even when, you know, industrialized labor was possible.
Tera Hunter: They arrested women for disorderly conduct as they were engaged in organizing the protests. And the city also threatened to create a license fee. And they said that they were going to treat every single individual washerwoman who participated in the strike as though they were an individual business. And so that really rankled the washerwomen, and they wrote a letter to the mayor where they spelled out their demands, why they were going to strike, why their labor was important. And they tried to turn that provision on its head by saying, "If you want to charge us a license fee, go ahead. And then we will be able to claim the benefits of being treated as a business."
Tera Hunter: Of course, you know, they didn't have that kind of money, but it was important that they were trying to rhetorically challenge the absurdity that they would be treated in that way.
Bethany Jay: The strike of 1881 feels very hopeful. It's, you know, a lot of women coming together to really organize together. But after the strike, as we get further into the 1890s, race relations in Atlanta in particular and in the South largely go downhill quickly. Can you talk to us a little bit about that moment?
Tera Hunter: Yeah, so the 1880's are an interesting moment because it's after Reconstruction, and it's after the period where many historians at least tended to emphasize in the past that—you know, that political mobilizations were essentially over. And what you see in Atlanta is that they're continuing. And so what's happening in the 1880s is that, with the washerwoman strike, it's part of larger kind of political mobilizations that are happening with African Americans still very involved in the Republican Party, still trying to assert themselves as voters before they're disfranchised in the 1890s. And so increasingly, moving towards the end of the decade, we see the implementation of more and more Jim Crow laws, and the increase in racial violence, which one could say reaches a peak with the race riot in 1906.
Tera Hunter: So the race riot of 1906 was instigated by false charges that Black men were raping white women. And the newspapers, the white daily newspapers, played a big role in reporting these stories, which again were false.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: And white vigilantes began attacking African Americans. Many were killed. And so these tensions had been building since Reconstruction as African Americans were progressing, as they were getting educated, as they were buying homes and opening up new businesses, developing institutions, there was a lot of white resentment towards those achievements. And in addition to that, the gubernatorial campaign of 1906 really tried to stir up racial anxiety even more, which fed into these attacks that occurred in the riot. And so these kinds of incidents of white supremacist mass violence happened across the South and other parts of the country. So Atlanta was not unique, but it really tarnished the city's reputation. It was a clear indication of how much racial segregation had become entrenched in the city, how much violence against African Americans was tolerated within the city. And it actually led to African Americans leaving the city at that point. Many people left the city out of frustration and concern for their lives.
Bethany Jay: We see a lot of African-American people, not just in Atlanta but across the South, leaving in large numbers during the Great Migration. So as we're thinking about labor, we see 50 years or so of attempts to redefine labor in the South, and then eventually many people giving up on that. Is that a fair assessment of the period?
Tera Hunter: I think that's a very fair assessment. I mean, if you think about, you know, the longer history, there were concerns and fears and anxiety among white Northerners that African Americans, you know, once slavery ended, were going to leave the South wholesale and move to the North. There was some movement of African Americans in the late 19th century towards the North, but by and large, African Americans were committed to staying in the South because they saw the South as their homes. These were the lands that they built, and they wanted their fair share and they wanted to recognize, you know, the generations of family members that had survived and lived in the South.
Tera Hunter: But people also eventually gave up hope. The ability to own land did not materialize in the way that they had hoped. Urban employment didn't always materialize the benefits that they had hoped. And so the Great Migration is one of those moments when you see large numbers of people deciding that it's time to try something new. It's time to find another place that maybe would give them better opportunities.
Bethany Jay: Why should we give this particular story the time and the energy that it deserves in our classrooms?
Tera Hunter: So as we think about this moment that we have been living through in American history these past couple of years with COVID, there has been increasing attention to thinking about the people who do labor that we think of as essential, but we don't necessarily treat them that way in terms of the wages that they receive, in terms of the conditions under which they work, the hours that they labor. We don't give them the respect that they're due, even as we—during this period of the last couple of years—have called attention to their centrality in our lives. All the service workers, all the grocery store clerks, you know, all the people who deliver food, who do the shopping and then deliver it to us.
Bethany Jay: Mm-hmm.
Tera Hunter: We like to think of people as being middle class and not working class. And in doing so, I think we kind of hide and obscure the work, the physical labor, the unpleasant tasks that we often assign to a group of workers. And those workers have been disproportionately African American, they've been disproportionately other people of color, Latinos especially, and they have been disproportionately women. So I think that it's important for our teachers to help students to understand this longer history, which I think will also help them to appreciate things that are happening right now.
Bethany Jay: That's a very good point. Thank you so much for being with us today, and helping us to unpack such a complicated issue, and one that is so necessary for teachers and students to be talking about in the classroom. I can't think of anybody better to have had this conversation with, and I really enjoyed it.
Tera Hunter: I appreciate that, Bethany. I enjoyed it as well. Thank you so much.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Tera W. Hunter is a professor of history and African-American studies at Princeton University. She is the author of To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War and Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century, which won the Mary Nickliss Prize from the Organization of American Historians.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In his book, Shelter in a Time of Storm, historian Jelani Favors examines how Historically Black Colleges and Universities—or HBCUs—played a critical role in fostering generations of leaders and activists. In my conversation with Dr. Favors, we explore how their commitment to democracy and social responsibility played a distinctive role in their evolution. We also explore the impact that HBCUs had during the Jim Crow and civil rights eras.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I can't tell you how excited I am to welcome to the podcast Dr. Jelani Favors. J. Favors what's going on, my man?
Jelani Favors: Man, it's good to be with you, brother. Thanks for the invitation, and I'm happy to be here.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Of course, of course. Look, we have been talking for much of this season about African Americans, about how they've experienced Jim Crow, how they have thrived, how they have survived. But we know that the African-American experience isn't just about individuals or families, it's about community. And when you talk about community, you're talking about institutions. And one of the key institutions in the African-American community—certainly during the Jim Crow era—is historically Black colleges and universities. So I want to begin, Jelani, by asking you to tell us what falls under the umbrella of HBCUs?
Jelani Favors: So HBCUs, this is a designation that actually doesn't come until the 1970s. It's a federal designation. Prior to this, they were simply referred to as "Negro colleges." As I'm sure many of your listeners are aware of, it was illegal to educate enslaved Black men and women in the deep South. And so education is looked at really, as I often use this terminology, it's looked at as sort of a figurative messiah. It's looked at as not just only a way upward for the individual, it's looked at as a way upward collectively for the race. And that in itself is a concern for white America, who does not believe in the idea of Black social upward mobility, who are concerned about the idea of education itself.
Jelani Favors: The idea of a literate Black population is something that had always been a concern, particularly for slaveowners, but even for working class white Americans who believed that access and upward mobility is something that should belong particularly to white males only. That's where we begin to see a stark difference in what is being taught within these Black educational enclaves compared to predominantly white institutions. This antebellum era becomes a very important period where Black folks are defining what education is going to be for themselves, and you see a period where the concepts of white supremacy are becoming crystallized within the academy. The academy is playing a critical role in advancing these ideas. And of course, within Black educational spaces you see a counter effort to dismiss that, to preserve the confidence, the abilities of young Black students who are attending these spaces to understand that even though society is trying to convince you that you are pickaninnies and coons and sambos and second-class citizens, these spaces are being dedicated to countering that message at every turn. And it's very much going to be linked to, as you argue in your work, Hasan, the freedom dreams of Black people, the pursuit of freedom rights. And that becomes again a major difference between what's being taught at predominantly white institutions compared to the founding era of HBCUs.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Why is it important that students who are learning about the Jim Crow era learn about HBCUs?
Jelani Favors: Well, spaces matter in social movements. When you look at the long history of political activism and social activism within the Black experience, those spaces are absolutely essential in formulating strategies and tactics, in training future leaders. How do we get someone like a Mary McLeod Bethune? How do we get someone like a W.E.B. Du Bois? How do we get someone like a John Lewis or a Diane Nash or an Ella Baker, right? These are products of HBCU spaces and it absolutely mattered in helping them to articulate why white supremacy was problematic for the future of this country. Why, as Du Bois argued, the color line would be the problem of the 20th century. In helping someone like a John Lewis find the courage and find his voice, or Diane Nash and the scores of young people that she helped to lead through the streets of Nashville, who were products of Fisk University. Those spaces mattered. And unless we understand the type of energy that went into building those spaces, the type of intellectual discussions that emerge within those spaces, and how that helped young people to engage in dissent, then we won't really have a full understanding of the history of the Black experience in America.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: HBCUs, they are started by a wide range of organizations and people. Could you say a little bit about people and organizations that are responsible for founding these educational institutions?
Jelani Favors: Yeah, so you have a white philanthropic push combined with a Black urge for education. Again, Black folks were already creating their own Black educational spaces. We think of the African free school that existed in New York. There were other institutions like this in Philadelphia as well. The Institute for Colored Youth itself was founded by Quakers in Philadelphia who play a critical role in the founding of this institution. The African Methodist Episcopal Church will play a critical role in founding Wilberforce University, what's going to become Wilberforce University. So the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Churches, they're all kind of involved in this idea of providing educational spaces for newly-freed Black folks as we make this transition from the antebellum era to the post-emancipation era. You begin to see a proliferation of Black colleges emerging, dozens upon dozens of these institutions being founded in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I'm wondering, though, Jelani, we're talking about institutions, certainly after 1865 in the South, that are coming into existence in places where white folk had wanted to keep African Americans from not just attending school, but even learning the basics of reading and writing, where it was illegal just a few years earlier to teach an African American—whether enslaved or free—the fundamentals of literacy. So how did white Southerners respond to this push for education for African Americans?
Jelani Favors: Well, I mean, they are fearful. They are fearful, and they are also curious. You know, the idea of institution building in the deep South was something which was always of a major concern to the white Southern aristocracy in particular. You know, what are those folks doing down there in those brush arbors? You know, are they simply worshipping God, or are they also plotting to overthrow the institution of slavery? And the same thing could be applied to education. What are these kids learning? Are they learning a curriculum which is simply going to make them docile and amenable to the culture of white supremacy? Or are they going to become emboldened, question, push back against the social customs, the political customs of the region?
Jelani Favors: And of course, I think part of the balancing act that many of these early institutions are attempting to do is to try to convince, whether it's white benefactors or the white proletariat is that, hey, we're of no consequence. We're not here to directly challenge you. I think this is where people like Booker T. Washington comes in, where he stands in the middle of Piedmont Park in Atlanta and tells folks that, hey, we can be as one as the hand, as separate as the fingers. He is very much endorsing and embracing, at least publicly, the idea of segregation. But as Black folks are carving out that space, we begin to see something else taking place there. And Black folks indeed are going to question the assumptions of white supremacy. They are going to reject the idea of a second class citizenship. That's where we begin to see a stark difference in what is being taught within these Black educational enclaves compared to predominantly white institutions.
Jelani Favors: When you look at the antebellum era, you see a period where the concepts of white supremacy are becoming crystallized within the academy. The academy is playing a critical role in advancing these ideas. And of course, within Black educational spaces you see a counter-effort to dismiss that, to preserve the confidence, the abilities of young Black students who are attending these spaces to understand that, even though society is trying to convince you that you are pickaninnies and coons and sambos and second class citizens, these spaces are being dedicated to countering that message at every turn.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Now you have talked eloquently and written eloquently about what you call the second curriculum. Could you go into a little detail regarding what you mean by the second curriculum and its impact on students at HBCUs?
Jelani Favors: So HBCUs, yes, they're teaching classes in Greek and Latin and history and math and biology. But there's also another concept that emerges within these spaces. As I said before, it is very clear that the mission and purpose of these institutions is going to be resting on a pedagogy of hope, a pedagogy of resistance, and that pedagogy is composed of what I identify as really sort of three major ingredients. Within these institutions we see race consciousness. And by race consciousness I mean, how do we counter the disastrous impact and effects of white supremacy? We don't want our young people again believing that they are inherently inferior. And so race, it was the subject of debates. It was the subject of essays. And again, they talked about in the sense of an affirming sense of Black manhood and Black womanhood, promoting the highest ideals of success and these lessons in history of what Black folks have accomplished because again, the dominant society rejected Black manhood and Black womanhood at every turn. So race consciousness is one of those principal ingredients.
Jelani Favors: The other one is the idea of cultural nationalism, and when I speak of cultural nationalism in this context, I mean the idea and the necessity of building up Black institutions, building up Black organizations, of creating what they would later refer to as "race men" and "race women" who were proud to be Black in a society which again tried to strip them of that dignity and of that pride. And so the idea of building up their own becomes a major intellectual current flowing through these spaces.
Jelani Favors: And then the third one is what I refer to as idealism. And when I began to put together my study and I'm looking through these student newspapers, which became a major part of the primary resources that I was consulting, there were two words that popped up over and over and over again, and those words were "democracy" and "citizenship." Democracy and citizenship. I mean, they were constantly talking about the paradox of continuing to deny Black people democracy and citizenship. And a concept of idealism which was steeped in democracy and citizenship for all. So that formed the second curriculum. Again, idealism and cultural nationalism and race consciousness, not only did it create a charge and a mission for young Black people, but it gave them intellectual tools to go to identify white supremacy and Jim Crow-ism, and to attempt to deconstruct them.
Jelani Favors: We see the second curriculum at work in the student newspaper, The Freshmore, which was a newspaper which was written by the freshman and sophomore students at Alabama State University. December of 1955, there's this great article written by a student by the name of Loretta Jean Thomas, and the name of that article is "Is White Supremacy Faltering?" Right? I'll say that again. "Is White Supremacy Faltering?" This is 1955 in Alabama, and again herein lies the importance of the space, that a young Black woman in Loretta Jean Thomas can feel empowered enough to raise this question. And it's not a rhetorical question, because at the end of this article, she concludes that yes, not only is white supremacy faltering, but we should hasten its demise. And throughout that article, it is absolutely laced with the second curriculum. She's running down the history of the nation and racism that has existed. Again, that's an example of race consciousness. She's talking about the contradictions of continuing to deny Black people democracy and citizenship. Again, that's idealism, right? And so you see this legacy of the second curriculum very much materializing.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Learning for Justice has a special opportunity just for educators. After listening to this episode, you can earn a certificate for one hour of professional development. All you have to do is go to LearningForJustice.org/PodcastPD—PD for professional development. That's "PodcastPD," all one word. Then enter the unique code word for this episode: autonomy. All lowercase. You'll also find a link in the show notes. It's a great way to get even more out of Teaching Hard History.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Running any institution cannot be done without resources. I'm wondering how did these colleges and soon-to-be universities manage to keep their doors open? What were their financial sources that they were able to draw from?
Jelani Favors: It's a massive challenge. You know, so many resources to keep institutions afloat were being deliberately in many ways and systemically underfunded by local, federal and at the state levels. There are a number of white communities that are very much opposed to the idea of Black education altogether, and don't want to send their tax dollars to support these institutions. And indeed, there will be a disparity in terms of the type of funds and resources that are being allocated to these institutions, as opposed to white, publicly-funded schools.
Jelani Favors: In fact, there is an entire body of Black educational institutions that emerge in the Reconstruction era that don't make it out of that era. Many of them end up closing their doors. And so there's an incredible challenge about how they are going to keep their doors open. People like Booker T. Washington and others are leaning upon white philanthropy. But as Dr. James Anderson argues in his book on the history of Black education in the South, we cannot overlook and underestimate the role that Black folks played in keeping these doors open. Black folks are using their churches, they're using other civic organizations to draw upon and call for economic support. And this is something that Black folks are very much embracing. There's this great story in James Anderson's book about having a fundraiser at a local church, and a Black man, you know, comes and lays out his life savings for the local school and says, "Hey, I pledge everything that I have in order to keep these institutions and keep these doors open."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: One Black college pioneers in a method of raising funds, and that's Fisk University in the 1870s, and the tradition that that then launched among other HBCUs.
Jelani Favors: Oh, yeah. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were a chorus that traveled the country and would sing these Negro spirituals to largely white audiences and help raise money to keep the doors open. But of course, this is a case at other institutions that that is not a story in and of itself, that there were a number of Black colleges that were doing similar types of fundraising efforts.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: There was some debate about whether they should be singing and performing Negro spirituals, not just throughout the United States and hitting the Black community and Black churches, but at segregated concert halls and even overseas into England.
Jelani Favors: Yup.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Could you say a little bit about why it was an issue that they were performing particular songs?
Jelani Favors: Well, when you look at the history of what they often refer to as the Negro spirituals, and particularly as you begin to move into a newer generation, we're talking about the era of the new Negro that begins to emerge in the early 20th century, there are a number of particularly younger Black folks who did not want to sing what they thought of as slave songs, songs that invoked the spirit and the misery of fieldwork. Because, you know, we're entering into a period, particularly from the Reconstruction into the early 20th century, where you see this sort of harkening for the "Good old days" amongst white America. And one of the things that reminds them of the good old days is hearing, you know, those work songs that were often sung by Black folks. And so it's really sort of a generational divide that begins to emerge amongst a number of young Black people who say, "Look, we no longer want to sing these songs for largely white audiences."
Jelani Favors: And of course, there are also a number of Black composers and educators who teach at these institutions, who remind some of those younger Black folks that there is dignity to be found in that music. There are coded messages to be found in that music. And it remained a debate for a number of years on how we should move forward. Are we celebrating the legacy and the heritage of Black folks? Or are we simply giving to white folks a romanticized view of slavery days? That's a debate that ultimately resolves itself. We begin to see new pathways for economic support opening up for HBCUs, particularly as you see the rise of a number of state-supported institutions. But yeah, I think that's a really great window and insight into how you begin to see a new Negro generation rejecting some of the principles of entertaining white folks and keeping a romanticized view of slavery moving forward.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Who do we find teaching at HBCUs?
Jelani Favors: So right out of the gate, you know, a number of these institutions, you're going to see white educators who are coming down from the North. You're going to see white administrators at many of these institutions, certainly in many cases, you're going to see white trustee boards. And that's going to remain the case for much of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. You know, institutions like Lincoln University for a number of years had an all-white faculty, and they weren't alone. But again, as we move into this new Negro era, you begin to see calls and demands amongst particularly again, Black youth who are being educated within these spaces, that they want to see—they want to see their own, right? They take pride in their own.
Jelani Favors: And Tougaloo College is one of those institutions where a number of younger Black students said, "Hey, we should take great pride in our race. And that includes understanding that there are educators and administrators who are more than capable in leading this institution and educating us." And that begins to simmer and boil over. I think probably one of the most popular examples of this is the protests at Fisk in the 1920s, where a number of Fisk students really kind of reject the idea of white paternalism that they find in the instruction and education and leadership of someone like President McKenzie, who was the head of Fisk at that time in the 1920s. And they said, "Look, you know what? We're sick and tired of that level of paternalism. We're sick and tired of these white supremacist ideals finding their way into our campus by suggesting that the only people who can lead these institutions and who can teach our own are white folks." And it's from a lot of that consternation and frustration that we do begin to see, slowly but surely, Black faculty assuming greater roles within these institutions and ultimately Black administrators as well.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: What's the day-to-day interaction between local Black folk, folk who aren't attending the Black college and the institution itself during this time in the early 20th century?
Jelani Favors: I think it's important to understand and realize that there were scores of working-class Black folks, impoverished Black folks, who looked at HBCUs as a beacon of hope. These were institutions often located in these impoverished communities, and they provided a sense of hope and a sense of connection. Education is looked as not just only a way upward for the individual, it's looked at as a way upward collectively for the race. One of my good friends at Duke University, she identified and talked about this idea of a linked sense of fate with the masses, right? A linked sense of fate with the masses. And these are Black youth who are coming out of these institutions who have a linked sense of fate with the masses. They don't simply go into their own ivory towers and create these lush, private communities and disconnect themselves completely from the struggles of the Black masses. Their struggles are their own.
Jelani Favors: The HBCUs open up their doors to try to provide training, vocational and professional training for working-class people. Many of them are having conventions on campus particularly for agriculture in the deep South, places like Tuskegee, Southern University, Talladega.
Jelani Favors: And then, of course, there's something which we celebrate quite a lot in the HBCU world: the cultural pageantry of it all. Because the HBCUs also provided a space where Black folks could be free. They could go and celebrate by going to watch the football games, listening to the bands, going and enjoying the homecoming and the revelry and again, the cultural pageantry which often define these spaces. And it became a community celebration.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: There is an equally long legacy, strong legacy of student activism. And it doesn't just begin in the 1960s. Could you say a little bit about those who were going to school during the depths of Jim Crow?
Jelani Favors: Well, you know, as you mentioned, prior to the 1960s, the '30s, the '40s, the '50s, the 1920s, you begin to see seeds developing. You begin to see Black youth finding their voices. I just want to share another passage, which I think really highlights that. Solomon Seay Sr., who would go on to become a major prominent voice within the Movement for Black Liberation in Alabama. It's very interesting to identify what brought Solomon Seay into that development in terms of finding his voice on these political issues. And if I could just share this brief passage, which I identify as the very important work the HBCUs were doing to help facilitate that.
Jelani Favors: From the book it says quote, "In 1929, a special student arrived at Alabama State University. For Solomon Seay Sr., the dawning of racial responsibility did not occur until he enrolled at the university. An itinerant preacher with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Seay enrolled in colleges when he could, picking up a course or two along the way." And this is from his memoirs. "'About all that I can remember from that experience,' wrote Seay of ASU, 'Is two courses that did something special to me.' To judge from their formal titles, these two classes, Rural Sociology and Human Geography, did not broadcast their militancy. Such was the magic of the second curriculum. Seay's professors had the opportunity to close their doors, begin their instruction and relate the coursework to the oppressive social, political and economic conditions Blacks suffered in Alabama. In doing so, they hoped that the outcome would be conscientious citizens at least, even freedom fighters. They hit the jackpot with Seay." Seay goes on to say quote, "'Both courses helped to awaken me far more than either of those teachers could imagine,' he recalled. 'This was an additional motivation for my whole civil rights thrust in the years to come.' As the movement came to life in Montgomery during the 1950s, Martin Luther King Jr. described Seay as quote, 'One of the few clerical voices that in the years preceding the protest had lashed out against the injustices heaped on the Negro, and urged his people to a greater appreciation of their own worth.'"
Jelani Favors: Throughout the book you find stories like this, of students finding their voices. And that's the legacy, I think, of these institutions that we have to lift up is how they help people find their voices and find their purpose and how those voices and those purposes were very much linked to the freedom dreams of the Black masses. It's one thing to talk about the legacy of social activism and student agency, it's another thing to try to help students find their own student agency, and to help find their own voice. I think that's one of the things as educators that we need to be trying to do is to help students find their voices, particularly in areas of intolerance and inhumanity, and how these things persist in our society today. Not only persist, but in many ways are intensified in this space in our country today, and how they can be agents of change.
Jelani Favors: One of the projects that I've done in my own courses has been what I refer to as "Project activism," where I actually get students to do group projects that require them to participate in or generate their own protests and relate that project to the course material and historical narrative of Black people in this country.
Jelani Favors: So when I taught at Morgan State University in Baltimore, I had students who did projects on the boarded-ups in downtown Baltimore. If you've ever seen the television show The Wire, it talks a lot about the boarded-up communities, and there's a lesson in the history in terms of housing segregation and gentrification to be told within that. But I had a group of students who did really brilliant projects on that, where they would go downtown into these communities, interview residents within those communities, and then find ways to highlight the significance of rejecting and protesting that legacy. I had students who did projects on bullying, I had students who got involved in local political campaigns that they believed in. I think youth have always represented the promise of tomorrow, and I hope that the educational spaces that we're exposing them to continues to equip them with the type of intellectual tools to serve, to continue to serve as a promise for a better tomorrow.
Jelani Favors: So for educators who are looking to discuss the importance of HBCUs, thankfully, there are indeed a group of digital collections which document the legacy of these institutions. Educators can go to HBCUDigitalLibrary.auctr.edu. Again, that's HBCUDigitalLibrary.auctr.edu. And there you can find a litany of primary resources, of digitized history from Alabama State, from Bennett, from Fisk, from Bowie. There's a growing number—Hampton University. There's a growing number of HBCUs, which are funneling their digitized history into this space. That includes student newspapers. It includes presidential papers. It includes photos and images. So I certainly would point teachers to that space.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: As we move through the Jim Crow era, at a certain point there are victories with regard to overcoming segregation. And this is getting a little bit beyond the general scope of the podcast as a whole, but we would be remiss if we did not get you to say a word on the impact of desegregation on HBCUs by the time we get to the 1960s and certainly the 1970s and early '80s.
Jelani Favors: Yeah. You know, by the time you reach the late 1960s, early 1970s, these institutions are beginning to change in more ways than one. And one of the ways that they were changing is that they were no longer able to recruit some of the top flight Black scholars that were emerging from graduate school, because many of those students were now beginning to take these new job opportunities that were beginning to emerge at predominantly white institutions. And so if indeed, the relationship between Black faculty and Black students provided one of the very important foundations for the militancy that's emerging out of these institutions throughout much of the 20th century, that relationship begins to evolve. I won't say it weakens, because there are still a number of incredibly talented Black faculty who teach at HBCUs, but there are greener pastures. You know, I'm having my air quotes going here, "greener pastures" that are being offered now to a number of Black faculty.
Jelani Favors: You know, there's this great story that I tell in my chapter on North Carolina A&T, where a professor who was very well known in the area of English literature, Darwin Turner, was teaching it at North Carolina A&T during the Black Power era. And he was so recognized for his talent that I believe it was the University of Wisconsin I believe, began to fly him round trip back and forth just to come teach one class on Black studies, this emerging field of Black studies that's coming out during the Black Power era in the late 1960s. And so they said, "Hey, we need to get a Black guy here on campus who can teach this." They identified Darwin Turner, who's still teaching in North Carolina A&T, and they're flying him round trip just to come teach this one class. And it's such a phenomenon that they bring in a television crew to capture this, right? A Black guy teaching Black studies at the University of Wisconsin. And the very next year, I believe, he accepts a job at the University of Michigan.
Jelani Favors: So, you know, that matters, right? When a school like North Carolina A&T begins to lose the type of talent that's embodied in someone like Darwin Turner, or a number of the other preeminent Black scholars that are emerging in the late 1960s, many of them are taking their talents to institutions that had a lot greater material resources to offer than HBCUs. And that impacts. It impacts the legacy of these institutions, the type of talent that these institutions once almost exclusively had access to. It's not just faculty who are being seduced by the trappings of capitalism, if you will, but Black students as well. Many of them are being seduced by the material resources that were being offered by predominantly-white institutions as this era of integration begins to open up. And that is a trajectory I think that has continued to this day, even though we've seen an increase in Black enrollment at HBCUs, particularly in the last few years due to a lot of the increased racial hostilities that are intensifying in our country. But make no mistake about it, going into the period of integration, HBCUs are going to witness a lot of transformation on their college campuses.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: You know, we're living in a time now where teachers are receiving any number of questions concerning what they teach when it concerns issues of race and racism. And I can easily see someone asking a teacher why on Earth would you be instructing our students about historically Black colleges and universities. Aren't these just promoting segregation? And what would be your advice to teachers with regard to how to respond to that?
Jelani Favors: Well, I mean, one, I would say we have to embrace the hard histories of understanding the legacy of segregation within this country. And part of understanding that legacy of segregation is that these institutions and spaces were created out of necessity, and they weren't immediately deemed as historically Black colleges and universities. They were the Black college and the Negro college because of segregation. Certainly there's a stigma of inferiority that a number of white Americans have had about these institutions and spaces. But white people were employed there, who taught there, certainly administrators there. At various points there have been white students that have attended there. I'm thinking about Joan Trumpauer, who came down to Mississippi with the Freedom Rides, and ultimately stayed and enrolled at Tougaloo, and became one of the most important voices within the Tougaloo movement.
Jelani Favors: But I think what's most important is that we recognize the realities of what emerged out of these institutions and spaces. And that is again, a push for liberation for all Americans, and most expressly African Americans who have been marginalized and dehumanized for years in this country. You can't begin to talk about the Black experience in America and not recognize the significance of these spaces, of the women and the men that they produced who went on to become very important parts of the Black liberation movement within this country. They're still very much vital. They're still very much of a high necessity. And so I hope that they'll continue to keep their doors open for years and years to come, and in doing so continue to help lead the way on some of these issues as it relates to deconstructing white supremacy and intolerance within our society.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Aggie Pride. That's what's up.
Jelani Favors: Aggie Pride. [laughs]
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Jelani Favors, brother. Jelani, man, thanks a lot for blessing us with your insights.
Jelani Favors: I mean, thank you so much for having me. It's been a joy.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Absolutely. And as we roll the credits, it sounds to me like I hear "Dear Old Morehouse" in the background. I could be mistaken, but it certainly does sound like that. We'll get up, brother, we'll get up.
Jelani Favors: We can only pray, brother. Take care, man, thank you.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: All right.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Jelani M. Favors is the Henry E. Frye Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina A&T State University. He is the author of Shelter in a Time of Storm: How Black Colleges Fostered Generations of Leadership and Activism, which received the Stone Book Award as well as the Lillian Smith Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pauli Murray Book Prize from the African American Intellectual History Society.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Teaching Hard History is a podcast from Learning for Justice—the education arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center—helping teachers and schools prepare students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Learning for Justice provides free teaching materials about slavery, Reconstruction, the civil rights movement and more. You can find award-winning films and classroom-ready texts at LearningForJustice.org.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Most students leave high school without an understanding of the Jim Crow Era and its continuing relevance. This podcast is part of an effort to change that. In our fourth season, we put Jim Crow under the spotlight, examining its history and lasting impact.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Thanks to Dr. Hunter and Dr. Favors for sharing their insights with us. This podcast was produced by Mary Quintas and senior producer Shea Shackelford. Russell Gragg is our associate producer. "Music Reconstructed" is produced by Barrett Golding. And Cory Collins provides content guidance. Amelia Gragg is our intern. Kate Shuster is the series creator. And our managing producer is Miranda LaFond.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: If you like what you've heard, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And let us know what you think. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We always appreciate your feedback.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I'm Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, associate professor of history at The Ohio State University, and your host for Teaching Hard History.
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