The legacy of African American teachers in Jim Crow Mississippi



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This study examines the educational philosophies and classroom practices of African American teachers in Mississippi prior to desegregation. The author collected the oral histories of fifteen former teachers and students from rural and urban districts across the state of Mississippi. Their responses were analyzed through the lenses of womanist pedagogy, educational capital, and the ideals of prominent early 20th century African American education scholars. In many ways, the archetypes for African American set by famous intellectuals were rarely met within the schools represented in this study. The responses of the participants, however, revealed a number of ways in which teachers created positive learning environments for their students despite the lack of resources and the hostile environments in which they taught.