The right to education was one that had to be earned for blacks in the United States of America. Events such as Brown vs. Board of Education, the Little Rock Nine, and Ruby Bridges helped advance the right of black students to receive an education alongside their white counterparts. Yet nearly a century prior, during the slavery era, blacks were outlawed from learning to read, write, or learn in any capacity. Education allows for additional opportunities and more efficient communication. The role of education during the slavery era helped advance the progression of blacks obtaining their freedom.
America during the slavery era is well-known and one of the lowest points of this countrys history. Between 1525 and 1866, over 388,000 slaves were brought over from Africa to what is now called America (Gates Jr., September 20, 2013.) Slaves were used as free labor around plantations and were subjected to beatings, rapes, lynchings, and other forms of abuse if the did not comply with their owners. Blacks were not considered citizens for a significant portion of this era and were subsequently denied rights that white citizens had including owning land, businesses, earning an income for their work, and the right to learn to read and write (Carson, 2018.) The denial of education to blacks was a strategic plan by white slave owners and the government to keep the institution of slavery going. There were several laws passed during the slavery era to prevent blacks from receiving an education.
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One of the first laws was passed in the state of Missouri in 1819 and and this law explicitly stated that white citizen were not allowed to teach slaves how to read or write. By 1847, Missouri made this law even stricter and prohibited whites to teach any black, whether a slave or freeman, how to read or write. Nearly a decade after Missouri banned slaves from reading or writing, Georgia mirrored this law and made the offense punishable by imprisonment and fines. Georgias laws also became stricter by broadening the law to apply to all blacks in 1829. Georgias updated laws also prevented freed blacks to work in any job position that required reading and writing which significantly limited their employment opportunities even further than they were before.
The trend of preventing blacks from reading and writing continued throughout the southern states in states such as Alabama and Virginia (Bruce, 1999.) The outlaw of reading and writing for blacks in America was done in order to keep whites in control. Those in control of the government officers during the slavery era had high chances of being slave owners themselves. By passing laws that prevented slaves from secretly communicating without verbal communication, the chances of rebellions and escapes were decreased dramatically (Carson, 2018.) This was a strategic method by slave owners and politicians in the south because slaves were their main source of income.
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