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School Days

These adorable kids were Jacksonville students during the 1870s.  Source: Florida State Archives.

AN UPHILL BATTLE — After the Civil War ended in 1865, Florida educators had to scale a mountain of problems. These included an almost total lack of school buildings, textbooks, & supplies. Teachers were also poorly trained and few in number. However, African Americans and the US Congress supported the movement to build public schools in the South. This helps account for the fact that progress was made.

By 1878, fifty percent of the school-age children in Florida were enrolled in school. Florida stood as the poorest & least populated southern state, yet it claimed to have the highest rate of literacy of any of the former Confederate states.

The quality of African American education long suffered, though. Black schools in the South were underfunded and their teachers underpaid until integration began during the 1950s & 1960s.

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