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Advancement of Education
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Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.

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Advancement of Education among youth of African-American heritage now and in the past is and was utterly dependent upon community interest and initiatives by mothers and others who cared and valued the education of "the least of us." Advancement clearly began with Sunday School for the child and mother more likely to attend there than Sunday morning worship services.  And, almost without exception a special effort was made to have young mothers assist Sunday school teachers read lessons to assembled children.  Cora believed the best way to motivate a person is to give them responsibility for something they can value.   

Cora Lee Hill Atkins or one of the other scheduled members in the Library Women's Club beginning in 1929, each week visited and witnessed one of the local schools and at least one local hospital, ... and gave an oral report on Sunday mornings to the assembled congregation and pastor.  And, they visited the mothers of children seen and heard,  afforded comments about and by the teachers and sought to enhance the child's status in the eyes of his or her mother.  And, these were the women who interceded to inject discipline in the child's life via its mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother or other source of authority. The process worked and within a few years from 1929 until the 1960s, ... the Black high-school graduation rate was essentially the same as White children with approximately 20 percent of the boys and girls dropping out due to pregnancy and other common causes.  

In the mid-1950s, Reverend Chester H. Byars, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church (ended his 60 year ministry in 1993) was the first African-American invited to give a commencement invocation for a racially integrated class. 

 

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Last modified: 12/29/16