Christi Smith, Reparation and Reconciliation: The Rise and Fall of Integrated Education

Christi Smith, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Oberlin College, has just published a most timely monograph, Reparation and Reconciliation: The Rise and Fall of Integrated Education (University of North Carolina Press). At a moment when researchers are detailing the full emergence of a dual-track higher education system which funnels whites towards one set of selective colleges and universities and minorities towards under-funded open access schools, Smith examines the nineteenth-century struggle for racial integration on U.S. college campuses. Leading this effort was the American Missionary Association, founded in 1846 by Protestant abolitionists. The AMA envisioned a network of integrated, co-educational colleges designed to educate African American and white students together, both male and female. These would be the centers from which the leaders of a racially integrated democracy would emerge. Smith provides case studies of three colleges (Berea College, Oberlin College, and Howard University) to explore the administrative strategies used to achieve these goals as well as the challenges college leaders faced. As the title suggests, Smith’s study also explores how an expanding number of higher education institutions ultimately led to the differentiation and exclusion of African Americans, Appalachian whites, and white women from coeducational higher education. Reparation and Reconciliation highlights the ultimate and persistent salience of race over other social boundaries in higher education.

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