A History of Education for Black Students in Fairfax County Prior to 1954
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The purpose of this research is to give a historical account of the educational developments for black students in Fairfax County, Virginia. The research will first address a brief history of education in Virginia. The second and third chapters will respectively address education for black students in the state and pre-Civil War education in Fairfax County. Chapters four and five will focus on the formation of post-Civil War public education in Fairfax County and the education of black students within the county. The author will fit the education of Fairfax County's black students into the context of education within the state of Virginia. Comparisons and contrasts can then be made regarding the quality of education offered to black students in Fairfax County.
As with many southern communities, the growth of public education was affected by complacent attitudes, agrarian life styles, poor quality roads and lack of transportation. Fairfax County was no exception. Although numerous private and free schools existed prior to the Civil War, few received black students. The education of the black child, then, was left to the mercy and interest of those around him who chose to teach him basic reading and writing. Alexandria, for example, boasted of a large free black population--many of whom were educated in Alexandria when it was a part of Fairfax County.
Both philanthropic and missionary agencies supported education for black students. After the Civil War other schools existed such as the Freedmen's Bureau schools. These schools functioned until 1871. By this time free public education was a reality in Virginia and the issue of placing both black and white children in the same school became the major topic of educational discussion. In an effort to avoid integration black students were sent outside of Fairfax County to Manassas and Washington. After years of struggle, Luther Jackson School was built within the county to educate Fairfax County's black students. Other schools were gradually built to accommodate the educational needs of the county's black students. Even though schools were built to educate black students, there were many disparities in terms of the quality of facilities within the buildings.
Following the 1954 Brown Decision outlawing de jure segregation school assignment was not based on race for black or white children. As a result, parents could have a voice in school selection. In reality, the Brown Decision offered black parents more voice as these parents often sent their children to the formerly white schools. The general belief by whites was that black schools were inferior. Many of the formerly all-black schools eventually became administrative offices for Fairfax County Public Schools and black students began attending schools in their home districts.
- Doctoral Dissertations