Between Two Worlds: Intersectional Erasure in Post-Civil War Southern Education

Saturday, January 4, 2020: 2:10 PM
Murray Hill West (New York Hilton)
Jenifer Barclay, Washington State University
In the midst of the Civil War and into the immediate post-emancipation years, black women in particular sought out and provided education, care, opportunities, and protection for some of the most vulnerable members of their communities—children with disabilities. This paper will explore the intertwined histories of race, disability and education, focusing on the ways in which intersectional erasure rendered the work of black women and the experiences of deaf and blind freed children invisible in these histories. As early as the 1860s, black community members, Freedmen’s Bureau officials, and northern abolitionists opened formal schools to educate newly emancipated blacks. At the same time, many Southern states operated separate schools for the blind and deaf, but these excluded children of color. Black women, perhaps because of their own lived intersectional experiences, recognized and were integral in challenging the educational gap these institutional forces created. This paper provides a critical analysis of the history of Reconstruction-era and late nineteenth century black education to illuminate the work of black women educators, the experiences of Deaf and blind children of color, and the formation of doubly segregated educational institutions in the South.
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