Exhibition Introduction - Black Education: Industrial or Liberal?

The debate over the merits of industrial versus liberal education for African American advancement is often associated with well-known figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. In late 19th century Texas, many Black classicists were directly involved in negotiating these different philosophies of education with direct impact on local institutions, some of which thrive to this day. New schools and colleges sought to balance the need for teacher training, which often entailed literary and linguistic study, with preparation for industrial and agricultural professions. 

Yearbook of Wiley University, 1887-88

This yearbook from Wiley University outlines the four-year curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts. The first two years emphasize learning Latin and Greek. The yearbook also mentions Liberal Arts student Henry Pemberton, who would go on to make significant contributions to African American education in Texas.

Courtesy of University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, crediting Wiley College

The Weekly Bulletin Annual Catalog Edition 1909-1910

Author: Lovinggood, Reuben Shannon

This course catalog of Samuel Huston College also functioned as an advertisement for the school. It prioritizes Latin and Greek in the first two years of the curriculum. The President of the college, Reuben Shannon Lovinggood, consistently praised the learning outcomes of the curriculum when soliciting donations.

Courtesy of George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center

Prairie View: A Study in Public Conscience 1878-1946 (1962)

Author: Woolfolk, George R.

This retrospective account, written by the Chair of the college’s History department, explains how land grants and local politics impacted curriculum development over decades at Prairie View. Its transformation from an “Agricultural and Mechanical” college to a “Normal” school contrasts with the evolution and priorities of Samuel Huston College (not to be confused with the Sam Houston Normal Institute mentioned here, which was located in Huntsville, TX).

Courtesy of Digital Commons at Prairie View A&M University

Exhibition Board: Reuben Shannon Lovinggood and the Classics

Reuben Shannon Lovinggood served as Chair of Greek and Latin at Wiley College in Marshall, TX before assuming the inaugural Presidency of Samuel Huston College in Austin in 1900. That same year Lovinggood authored a pamphlet making an impassioned argument in favour of Classical education for African Americans. Lovinggood’s own writings give us unusually good access to contemporary perspectives on Black education, and we are fortunate that several documents from Sam Huston during this period survive to this day.

The Characteristics of the Negro People (1903)

Author: Kealing, Hightower Theodore

Noted African American teacher Hightower Theodore Kealing penned this essay in support of ethical and industrial education for Black advancement. An accomplished student of Greek, Kealing was leery of classical education that was merely superficial. The passage also reveals the pervasiveness of pseudo-scientific theories of race, despite Kealing’s lauded contributions to Black education. 

Credits: J. Pott & Co.

Board of Instructors 1903, 1910

The specialties of the instructors at Prairie View change drastically within a decade as the school altered its curriculum to prioritize industrial education. Two of the three English professors in 1903 also taught Latin, but by 1910, only one language professor remained. He taught solely English.

Credits: United States Office of Experiment Stations, Experiment Station Record, 1903 and 1910.

Letter by R. S. Lovinggood to W. S. Sutton c. 1916

Author: Lovinggood, Reuben Shannon

In this letter to W. S. Sutton, head of the School of Education at UT, Lovinggood defends the teaching of the classical course at Samuel Huston College. Although nominally seeking Sutton’s feedback, the letter demonstrates Lovinggood’s absolute commitment to the intellectual merits of liberal education against what he saw as the limits of industrial education.

Reproduced in Lovinggood, Penman. A Negro Seer: The Life and Work of Dr. R. S. Lovinggood. Lovinggood Company, 1963.

Letter from Harry W. Greene to W. E. B. Du Bois, March 2, 1934

Author: Greene, Harry Washington

As a student at Lincoln University, Harry Washington Greene had won several awards in Greek, Latin, and oratory. A former Dean of Samuel Huston College and Prairie View State College, he enjoyed close correspondence with the prominent African American intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois, facilitated by their mutual interest in training Black teachers and analyzing trends in the theory of Black education.

Courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Exhibition Board - Henry Bullock and the Double Consciousness

Henry Bullock, the first African American to hold a permanent faculty position at UT, taught in the History and Sociology departments from 1968 to 1971. Following a Ph.D. in Sociology, Bullock wrote several influential books on education, prejudice, and society, including A History of Negro Education in the South, which won the Bancroft Prize in 1968. Bullock criticized Black colleges for pursuing an assimilationist model and thereby failing to serve students who, in his view, needed a double consciousness of both hegemonic “WASP” culture and the students’ own Black culture.

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