Cincinnati Independent Colored School System

From Ohio History Central

While many African Americans preferred life in the North both before and after the American Civil War, they still faced racism. In Cincinnati, white racism towards African Americans resulted in the Cincinnati Independent Colored School System. Founded in 1856, the school district continued to operate for eighteen years. African-American voters elected a school board consisting of only blacks. In 1874, the Cincinnati Independent Colored School System ceased operations due to white fears. Many white Cincinnati residents feared educated African Americans. As blacks gained more skills and knowledge, many whites believed that African Americans would demand additional rights and opportunities. By limiting the education of African Americans, the whites hoped to keep blacks in lower-paying positions and to limit African Americans' voting opportunities. In 1874, the Cincinnati Board of Education, dominated by whites, took charge of the African-American schools.

Although the Cincinnati Board of Education now had responsibility for the African-American schools, the board focused most of its attention to maintaining the white schools. African Americans remained in segregated schools throughout the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, despite the fact that the state government supposedly ended segregation in public education in 1887. Most of the teachers who taught in the African-American schools were black themselves, as the Cincinnati School Board refused to allow African-American teachers to educate white children. As a result of segregation and the lower quality of education provided to African-American children, many black families withdrew their children from public schools and educated the students in private institutions. In 1901, fewer than half (1,855 of 3,730) of school-age African-American children attended public schools.

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