The 1700’s was a century that started a movement for free African American’s to obtain jobs and education even though there was still much work to be done to abolish slavery all throughout the United States. When Massachusetts ruled slavery illegal in 1783, due to Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Thus the start of African Americans intergrading into American society, and as with any free individual, African American’s believed they were now entitled to education and “fought against inequalities and discrimination in public schools” (Boston African American National History Site)
Seven years later in Boston Massachusetts, the community and Prince Hall, an abolitionist for African Americans and education set out to petition for African American’s children to have access public education. The black community did not agree with their taxes going to the education of white children, while black children were denied public education. Although it was denied in 1787, members of the black community decided to fix the situation themselves. By 1789, a plan to arrange an African School for children had been accomplished. African American children were taught in Prince Hall’s son’s house, Primus Hall and 9 years later in 1808 the school moved to the first floor of the African Meeting House, the first African American Baptist Church.
By the early 1800’s some children had attended school with white children, however, when the African School moved to the Meeting house many African children’s enrollments were moved to the African School. The African community never gave up with petitions for an African American school to be recognized by the city. The city finally gave in and recognized the school with “partial funding ($200 yearly)” (Boston African American National History Site).
The dedication to Abiel Smith came after his death. He was a white business man who “Left $4,000 for the education of African American children in Boston.”(Mass. Historic Buildings). The Abiel Smith School became the primary school in Boston to educate numerous black children. Due to school segregation in 1849, many African American’s pulled their children out of the Smith School in protest of segregation of education. A bill in 1855, signed by the governor, passed state legislature, which “…outlawed segregation in Massachusetts public schools, although the only segregated system by that time was in Boston”(afroammuseum.org). That fall, segregation ended and black children finally gained the right to public schools. Due to this, the Smith School was closed that same year.
Although Boston was still the only place where education was still segregated it is important to see just how important education and freedoms were to the African community, and also Massachusetts. I chose education for theses blog posts because it is something I care about. However, I did not expect them all to take place in Massachusetts. Massachusetts had very interesting education growth, from laws, to school reform, Horace Mann as a leader of education, and organizing a school for children. It is known that American as a whole has come a long way with public education, but we all know work still needs to be done.
Abiel Smith School Boston. Photograph. Museum of African American History, Boston.
"Boston African American National Historic Site - Abiel Smith School (U.S. National Park Service)." U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America. Web. 09 May 2011.
"Museum of African American History, Boston - Black Heritage Trail Site 13." Museum of African American History - Welcome. Web. 09 May 2011.
Daniel. "Abiel Smith School (1835) » Historic Buildings of Massachusetts." Historic Buildings of Massachusetts. 20 Feb. 2011.