A host of grassroots black educational struggles unfolded in the 60s and 70s. Schools and other sites of learning provided the critical terrain for battles over black studies, community control, and African-American identity. Insistence on black autonomy and internal development of African-American communities reshaped black educational outlooks. Many African-American educational struggles sought radical reform rather than incremental change, group progress rather than individual freedom, humanism rather than materialism, and political engagement rather than mere social mobility. They included cosmopolitan and internationalist perspectives, a reflection of revived interest in African cultural heritage and Third World movements.
Student rebellions erupted on scores of high school campuses. Small, creative institutions played crucial roles in the intellectual and cultural development of people of color, especially as public programs in urban centers fell victim to cutbacks. Alternative models rooted curricula in the lives and experiences of black people while giving programmatic structure to Black Power ideals.
-Russel Rickford, Cornell University
The self-conscious use of education as an instrument of liberation among African Americans is as old as education among African Americans. This work is about those forms of education intended to help people think more critically about the social forces shaping their lives and think confidently about their ability to react against those forces.