A study of industrial arts education programs in Virginia for blacks, 1951-1969

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Virginia Tech


The famous decision of the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 US. 483 (1954), ruled that racial segregation in public education was constitutional. This decision was met with resistance from many of Virginia's white citizens, because the ruling attempted to alter the state's dual system of education.

The education of white and colored students (as they were called in the 1950's) was based on the philosophy of "separate but equal ..." This study offers a historical analysis of industrial arts education programs offered to blacks from 1951-69, as the state moved to comply with the Brown decision. Special attention is directed to the leadership role played by Dr. William T. Reed, an itinerant teacher-trainer based at Virginia State College, the Commonwealth's land-grant institution for blacks. Industrial arts activities for blacks centered around the land-grant institution in Virginia as in other states.

As a result of integration called for in Brown many of the black schools have closed, their names have changed, and in many cases high schools have converted to junior high and combination schools. The organizations for teachers and students have merged with their white counterparts or have been discontinued. Four specific questions served as the framework for the investigation and were used to draw conclusions to the findings.


  1. What were the characteristics of the publicly supported secondary education programs of industrial arts education which were offered to blacks in Virginia prior to the Supreme court’s ruling in the school segregation case known as the Brown decision?

Industrial arts education programs prior to the Brown decision were: (1) Considered a component of trade and industrial education; (2) Were oriented more toward industrial education or skill preparation; (3) Teachers were prepared in industrial education; (4) Programs were more common in the city school divisions and more common in high schools with grades eight through twelve; (5) Facilities or shop designs were usually of the comprehensive type; and (6) Fewer funds were allotted to black industrial arts education programs for equipment, supplies, and teacher’ salaries in comparison to the white programs in the state.

  1. What effect did the Brown decision have on industrial arts education programs for blacks?

The Brown decision did not have an altering effect until the mid-1960s on the characteristics of industrial arts education programs offered to blacks.

  1. How did the transition from segregated to desegregated schools affect industrial arts education programs?

Black and white industrial arts education programs remained unchanged until the mid-sixties as school systems began to establish policies to integrate faculty and student populations. Blacks schools and programs closed, teachers were displaced, programs discontinued and names of schools and organizations changed.

  1. How were these programs supervised at the state level?

Industrial arts education programs between the years of 1951 through 1969 were supervised under’ the service area of the division of trade and industrial education and industrial arts education. Each year the director of trade and industrial education and industrial arts education of the Department. of Education appointed an assistant state supervisor to assume the overall responsibilities of industrial arts supervision and instruction. This person worked with Dr. William T. Reed, an itinerant teacher-educator with part-time teacher education responsibilities at Virginia State College and part-time supervision duties with the Department of Education.