Success to the Literary Society! Black Male Youth Organizing in Early Nineteenth-Century Boston
Author: Kabria Baumgartner, University of New Hampshire, Durham
Comment: Elizabeth McHenry, New York University
Thursday 5 November
Virtual Event - hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society
In 1841, a dozen or so African American male youth aged twelve to sixteen established the Young Men’s Literary Society in Boston with the stated aim to promote intellectual growth. The very success of this endeavor laid bare the severe educational inequalities and inequities that African American youth faced in Boston’s public schools. In response, these youth organized for change. This paper traces their organizing efforts and describes how their skills in composition, penmanship, elocution, and the literary arts set the stage for the “overthrow of caste schools” in Boston in 1855.
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