African-American Perspectives on Education Essay

Pages: 4 (1468 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies


He received pleasure from literature and philosophy -- the ability to become more of the world and of the times comes with literacy. As a person a part of a group formally oppressed in America, literacy and education are also a curse; he feels he knows too much. He has a great deal of knowledge and motivation, yet because of the severe lack of education in his culture, his actions are stagnated. One person cannot enact a revolutionary change on a societal scale; it takes many to make one, great change. Douglass feels both liberated and restricted by his newly acquired education. A reader can infer that Douglass ultimately feels positively toward the acquisition of education for African-Americans in his present time and in the future (now), as he writes his autobiography in the hopes that other African-Americans would know how to read, would read it, and gain inspiration

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Du Bois talks of a variety of kinds of education in "Of Our Spiritual Sufferings." He first makes comment about how formal, institutional education has been intentionally been denied to African-Americans and how such a denial must come to an end. He discusses the social education of African-Americans with regard to how White America perceives them. Du Bois makes an interesting comment to help African-Americans see from the perspective of White America when he asks, "…what need of education, since we must always cook and serve?" (Du Bois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings," Page 13) White Americans did not see why African-Americans should be educated at all; they were, in their minds, meant to serve. Education does not do much for a slave or servant. What would a servant do with an education? Likely find a way out of servitude. Du Bois urges readers and other African-Americans to become educated and to experience the worlds that have been kept from them for so long. He continues by providing a brief history of the reaction to educated African-Americans in the United States:

TOPIC: Essay on African-American Perspectives on Education for Assignment

"The opposition to Negro education in the South was at first bitter, and showed itself in ashes, insult, and blood; for the South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro. And the South was not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know." (Du Bois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings," Page 29)

He, like Douglass, urges and reflects upon the persistence of the 19th century African-American to provide him/herself with an education. Again, for many African-Americans, education was itself a symbol of freedom from slavery. As known in elementary psychology, often times, the more one is denied something, the greater the desire for the denied object becomes. Just as Du Bois writes in the above quotation, the opposition to education for African-Americans was vigorous, but the desire for education surpassed the drive to shut it down.

Modern psychologists have yet to reach a consensus regarding the relationship between race and education in the late 20th century and early 21st centuries. Some studies show that students feel a lot of pressure because of historical figures such as Du Bois and Douglass that actually hamper academic performance. (Rowley et al., "The Relationship…," Page 9) Education is ultimately a sign of liberation. The old adage goes that "knowledge is power." For African-Americans, trying to assert power after existing in such an oppressive state, exercise their right to education and because of the sacrifices made in African-American history by people such as Du Bois and Douglass, their education renders a great deal of meaning for the individual (hopefully) and the community in general.


Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. 1845. Available from 2012 May 05.

Du Bois, W.E.B. "Of Our Spiritual Strivings." The Souls of Black Folk. 1903. Available from 2012 May 05.

Rowley, Stephanie J., Sellers, Robert M., Chavous, Tabbye M., & Smith, Mia A. "The Relationship Between Racial Identity and Self-Esteem in African-American College and High School Students." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 3., 715 -- 724, 1998.

Sellers, Robert M., Chavous, Tabbye M., & Cooke, Deanna Y. "Racial Ideology and Racial Centrality as Predictors of African-American College Students' Academic Performance." Journal of Black Psychology,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "African-American Perspectives on Education" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

African-American Perspectives on Education.  (2012, May 6).  Retrieved August 5, 2021, from

MLA Format

"African-American Perspectives on Education."  6 May 2012.  Web.  5 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"African-American Perspectives on Education."  May 6, 2012.  Accessed August 5, 2021.