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Black People That Paved the Way in Education

February 16, 2023

Black people have been instrumental in paving the way for those coming after them in the field of education. Through great and diverse accomplishments, they have helped to shape the way education is taught and obtained.

From creating curriculums to desegregating educational institutions, black people have strived to improve the educational experience for all. To name just a few of the many, CovLC will cover some of the prominent figures in black educational history who have made major advancements.

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was born in South Carolina in 1875 and was one of seventeen children. She was the daughter of former slaves and recognized the need for black children to receive a quality education. In 1908, she helped to open the Daytona Educational and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls.

Working first by speaking at gatherings, door to door, and in varying churches, she managed to develop support from the public and aid from the local government.

She ran the school until 1923 when it merged with the Cookman Institute, another school dedicated to the education of black students, to form Bethune-Cookman College. Additionally, she served as the president of the National Association of Colored Women, was a founder of the National Council of Negro Women, and advised President Roosevelt.

Through her initiatives, hard work, and determination, she provided an opportunity for black children to receive a quality education.

James Nabrit

James M. Nabrit, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas in the year 1910. He was born to a family of both doctors and educators and went on to attend Morehouse College and Harvard Law with the assistance of a scholarship from the NAACP.

Following his education, he worked as a professor at Howard University, specializing in constitutional law. In 1950, he became the general counsel for the NAACP and would file Brown v. Board of Education in 1952.

This case argued that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional and would ultimately become the turning point in the fight for desegregating educational institutions. It's ruling, which was delivered by the Supreme Court in 1954, overturned previous rulings and speeded up the process of desegregating previously separated schools.

Johnetta B. Cole

Johnetta B. Cole was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1936. She attended Fisk University and Oberlin College, then proceeded to teach English at a historically black college and university, Talladega College, where she also held a position as a dean.

Later, she earned her doctorate degree and moved on to Stanford University where she held a teaching position and was appointed the director of the Institute of Research on Women and Gender.

In 1987, she was named the first female president of Spelman College and held the position until 1997. Cole was passionate about maximizing the educational potential of her students and used her position to help them become active leaders and participants in the industry.


Through their pioneering efforts and contributions, Mary McLeod Bethune, James M. Nabrit Jr., and Johnetta B. Cole have made great accomplishments within the field of education. These trailblazers have influenced and impacted the educational experience for both black and white students by advocating for desegregation and by creating curriculums that better served the diverse population.

The impact of their work can still be seen today as they laid the groundwork for equitable access to education and paved the way for future generations of students. With this said, it is important to seek the best quality education you can find and at Covalent Learning Center, we are well able to help.

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