Opening in 2027! Read our Latest News

SUBMITTED BY:  JC Knowles (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)

In my personal library, I have a book titled Public School Education in North Carolina, which was originally published in 1916. The book was written by Edgar W. Knight, and in it, he discusses the development of public education in our state. The following excerpt is from his chapter titled “Education during Reconstruction”:

“Through the Freeman’s Bureau, established by Congress March 3, 1865, the education of the negro was further aided. By the act creating the Bureau no provision for education was made, but soon it turned attention to this work as one of its important functions. The Reverend F. A. Fiske, of Massachusetts, was appointed superintendent of this part of the Bureau’s work and launched an extensive educational campaign, and large numbers of negro schools were established and carried on with zeal and effectiveness. By 1869 there were 431 such schools in the State with 439 teachers and more than 20,000 pupils. Most of the teachers were white and practically all came from the North. Many of them were earnest, courageous, and devoted, and untiring in their efforts, but frequently they lacked tact and a thorough knowledge of the actual condition and needs of the class for whom they labored. Indiscreet criticisms of the South and of the Southern people tended to antagonize the negroes against the whites, and to arouse among the latter bitter prejudice against the Bureau’s teachers and their work. Moreover, failure to enlist the sympathy and cooperation of the influential white people of the State created an unfortunate attitude toward the education of the negro, which persisted for many years after the work of the Bureau concluded.”

Editor’s Notes:

The author, Edgar W. Knight, was born in 1886 to John Washington and Margaret Davis Knight, Northampton County farmers whose chief crop was tobacco. In 1909, Knight graduated from Trinity College (now Duke University) with a bachelor’s degree and again in 1911 with a master’s degree. From there, he went to Teachers College, Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. degree. While at Columbia, he minored in history and was a student of James Harvey Robinson and William A. Dunning, with the latter most likely influencing his choice of dissertation topic: the influence of Reconstruction on education in the South. (“Knight, Edgar Wallace,” J. Isaac Copeland, 1988)

Knight’s Public School Education in North Carolina is available online (click on link at right)>> https://www.google.com/books/edition/Public_School_Education_in_North_Carolin/OvabAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This