Chauncey Depew Harmon, Senior : a case study in leadership for educational opportunity and equality in Pulaski, Virginia
Tripp, Norman Wayne
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A major battle in the struggle for African American civil rights has been the pursuit of educational opportunity. Little has been written about the early civil rights movement in western and southwestern Virginia. There is an especial paucity of information about the efforts of African American Southwest Virginians to improve their educational opportunities. This dissertation addresses that need by centering the study on an individual educator's life during the period 1913-1940 in Pulaski, Virginia. Chauncey Depew Harmon, Senior, was an African American educator born in Pulaski, Virginia, in 1913. Educated at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute during 1929-35, he returned to Pulaski to become principal of Calfee Training School in 1938. With the assistance of the NAACP and the Virginia State Teachers Association, Harmon led one of the earliest campaigns for equalization of teacher salaries and facilities during the 1938-39 school term. In March of 1939, the Pulaski County School Board decided to send its African American high school students to the Christiansburg Industrial Institute, effectively eliminating Harmon's position. Harmon's efforts resulted in a suit, Corbin et al. v. County School Board of Pulaski County, that was one of eleven facility equalization suits supported by the NAACP prior to Brown v. Board of Education. The study is an example of microhistory. Microhistory is the detailed, intensive study of the lives of particular individuals or groups. The study employs accepted methods of historical research. The study is organized chronologically. The outcomes of the study are threefold. First, the study serves to document the youth, education, and, early career of Harmon. Second, the study examines the persons, events, and institutions of the period that played a role in leading up to Harmon's decisions and actions to push for equalization of teacher salaries and school facilities in Pulaski. Finally, the study endeavors to add to the body of knowledge and understanding of the issue of race in American education.
- Doctoral Dissertations