Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Illiterate African American Adults (Report) - The Western Journal of Black Studies

Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Illiterate African American Adults (Report)

By The Western Journal of Black Studies

  • Release Date - Published: 2009-12-22
  • Book Genre: Social Science
  • Author: The Western Journal of Black Studies
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Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Illiterate African American Adults (Report) The Western Journal of Black Studies read online review & book description:

Frederick Douglass said, "Once you learn to read you will be forever free" (in Lee, 2000). This was a profound statement made during a time in the history of the United States when most African Americans were enslaved and deprived of an education. Yet, education has been highly valued in the African American community (Neufeldt & McGee, 1990) and much discussion has focused on the need for literacy (Dalton, 1991). For example in the late 1700s Richard Allen, along with others founded benevolent organizations, publications, reading societies, libraries, and schools for African children (Harris, 1992). Harris (1992) suggested that this period in the late 1700s might be thought of as one in which the seeds for literacy were planted but not without hardship or opposition. In the mid 1800s there was a continued focus on African Americans' ability to become literate, according to Dalton (1991). At this time literacy was seen as the path to independence and full citizenship. In the early 1900s, three educators and scholars, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Carter G. Woodson, symbolized varying ideologies that represented the first golden age in African American educational historiography (Harris, 1992). A foundation was created during this period that enabled African Americans to bolster their institutions, create publications, and debate educational philosophy. Qualls (2001) noted that by the early 1970s, school enrollment rates for African Americans had risen to 90% and by 1991, 93% of 5-19 year olds were enrolled in school. Between 1960 and 1970 the mean number of years of school completed by young African Americans rose from 10.5 to 12.2, with no change between 1970 and 1991. The average educational attainment for the entire U.S. population continued to rise as more highly educated younger cohorts replaced older Americans who had fewer educational opportunities. This was in sharp contrast to the 1940s, when more than half the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth-grade education. According to Quails, about 70% of African Americans had completed high school in 1991.

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