Black Women and Education

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Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African-American female astronaut to travel in space. Patricia Roberts Harris was the first African American female Ambassador of the United States. Miss Vanessa Williams was the first African American Miss America and the first African American White House Social Secretary was Desiree Rogers. There have been many nationally recognized accomplishments by African American women. Additionally, there have also been many unknown “paving the way” accomplishments by African American women such as Linda Adams Hoyle, the first African American woman to graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in 1968. Also, Jackie Blackwell, Linda Turner, and Marguerite Scott were three of the First African American women to graduate from Virginia Tech, in 1970, after Linda Hoyle. In those decades it was difficult going to school for women in general, but how were the African American women capable of actually graduating from college? Was it the bond that they shared as black women that was unknowingly motivating each other?

Literary Review: Family and Friends a Strong Foundation

“The education of Black women has always been considered an important investment in the future” (Gregory 1995). Gregory (1995) is not the only author who believes this but in fact Coker (2003) and Collier-Thomas (1982) agree with her entirely. Black women are the backbone of the family as Collier-Thomas (1995) and Coker (2003) points and it only makes sense that they would want to get educated so that they can continue to influence black children is a distinct point that Collier-Thomas (1995) makes in her article. Gregory (1995) says, “Black teachers often became the only means to establish schools and educational associations in the community, and teach Black youth and adults.” Gregory (1995) further discusses the importance of Black women as educator in this chapter, not only academically but also socially and communally.

However, Coker (2003) would argue that Black women not only get educated so that they can educate others, but also to be an example in their households. “Women head 50% of all African American households” (Coker 1995) and being educated as black woman who is the head of household has become a responsibility over the years. Coker (1995) further discusses the roles of African American women in politics and that they make a statement by being educated and playing a political role in the community. There have been stereotypes and actions of discrimination against African American for decades, in spite of these exploit “By 1920, there were over 100 black institutes of higher learning to which women were admitted (Collier-Thomas 1982).

African American females have had to deal with the two things that count against them when entering a field of study is something that all the authors appear to agree with. Coker (2003), Collier-Thomas (1982) and Gregory (1995) all seem to agree that the number of Black women in higher education will only increase and in this paper, I will state that there are different reasons for why African American women make it all the way to graduation and even higher education than a college degree.

Methodology: In their own words

Linda Hoyle, Jackie Blackwell, Linda Turner, and Marguerite Scott were brought back to Virginia Tech at different points in their lives and interviewed by Tamara Kennelly. Kennelly’s questioned ranged from the women’s lives before attending the Institute to their experiences during their time there and how they felt. All the questions were not the same for all the women but they were essentially asking the same things. While reading these transcripts I got a sense of unification among these women while still maintaining their individuality. I got a good sense of how each of these women was and how set they were on their goals. It felt like I was reading my own response to some of these questions, although I did not grow up...
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