The evolution of education for African-Americans in Pointe Coupee Parish (New Roads, Louisiana): 1889-1969

Leola Palmer, Fordham University


Multiple perspectives: historic, political, descriptive, educational, ethnographic, and economic strategies were used to conduct the investigation. Video- and audiotaped interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed qualitatively with charts and graphs. The population consisted of African Americans: the descendants of the intimidated, exploited, murdered, harassed, and evicted among the elite professional and nonprofessional residents. African Americans resolved that even though the public school system in Louisiana had facilitated the dehumanization of their ancestors as slaves, maintained by the taxes paid on them as property, and the continued exploitation of them as agricultural workers after the Emancipation Proclamation, the school system would benefit their heirs, also. The determination of this population was such that their churches, abandoned buildings, and society halls served as elementary schools until the late 1950s. Through perseverance and the wise use of limited funds, they were able to construct more traditional school buildings and extend the school year from "three and three quarter months to five months." They extended these strategies to include sending their children to live with relatives and friends in urban areas in order to attend high school while they continued to pressure the school officials to accept their petitions and financial donations to construct a new school. Their relentless determination to provide a high school for their children resulted in successful parish-wide fund-raising activities to construct their second high school in 1950. These strategies were necessary, because the Pointe Coupee Parish School System was operated by all-European American males on whose plantations most African Americans lived. Educational goods and services were few, textbooks were "dog-eared and discarded," and they performed curricular tasks which were demanded in order to perfect the agricultural skills that were required of adult workers. Perpetuating the new slavery "the peonage system" required that school terms would be shortened so students could harvest the various crops. These exploitative conditions lasted from 1889 until 1969. The curriculum was based on agricultural training in a "haphazardly operated school system" which prepared students to work for the benefit of the parish and state in positions that required few, if any, academic skills within the "dual educational system." These were primary curricular challenges that African Americans faced during the era of their educational evolution in Pointe Coupee Parish (New Roads, Louisiana): 1889-1969.

Subject Area

Education history|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Palmer, Leola, "The evolution of education for African-Americans in Pointe Coupee Parish (New Roads, Louisiana): 1889-1969" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9228107.