An African American Dilemma: A History of School Integration and Civil Rights in the North

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Americans have viewed school integration as a central tenet of the Black civil rights movement. Yet school integration was not the only-or even always the dominant-civil rights strategy. At times, African Americans also fought for separate, Black-controlled schools dedicated to racial uplift, community empowerment, and self-determination. An African American Dilemma offers a social history of debates over school integration within northern Black communities from the 1840s to the present. This broad geographical and temporal focus reveals that northern Black educational activists vacillated between a preference for either school integration or separation during specific eras. However, there was never a consensus, so the dissent, debate, and counter-narratives that pushed families to consider a fuller range of educational reforms are also highlighted here. Presenting a sweeping historical analysis that covers the entire history of public education in the North, the book broadens our understanding of school integration by highlighting the diverse perspectives of Black students, parents, teachers, and community leaders all committed to improving public education. It finds that Black school integrationists and separatists have worked together in a dynamic tension that fueled effective strategies for educational reform and the Black civil rights movement. The book draws on an enormous range of archival data including the black press, school board records, social science studies, the papers of civil rights activists, and court cases.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages297
ISBN (Electronic)9780190605131
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • African american
  • Black
  • Black freedom struggle
  • Civil rights history
  • Civil rights in the north
  • Educational activism
  • Educational reform
  • School desegregation
  • School integration
  • Separate schools


Dive into the research topics of 'An African American Dilemma: A History of School Integration and Civil Rights in the North'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this