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black kids B & W from AHBIS page TLT-01.

Private Schools Founded by African Americans

and the Associations that Supported Them

  A little Black history...

In 2000, there were 400 such schools nationally, enrolling some 52,000 African American students. We can trace their history back to 1704 in New York City.

This website is dedicated to that history.

Please know that it is a work in progress - and be encouraged to contribute.

Historically Black Independent Schools

Gail Foster, Ed.D.

First Published in City Schools, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000


The story of Historically Black Independent Schools (HBIS) is the story of enterprising and determined educators and parents who were denied good schools by the public system,

and who heroically created the schools they desired.  

As the school desegregation and civil rights movement of the 1950s moved north in the '60s and early '70s, people of African ancestry in New York City had expectations that their children would finally be able to attend the better (and predominantly white) public schools in the city. They even hoped that they would finally control the school boards that governed the low-quality, segregated schools in their own neighborhoods. Frustration with the continuing circumstances led some African American educators and churches to open their own low-cost, private, culturally affirming schools, and rekindled an independent school movement that had begun during the early 1700s.


While educators today debate ways to make the current system work, enterprising African American educators (mostly female) and churches have a rich history of establishing  a range of Black-financed, education enterprises, both nationally and in New York City. For hundreds of thousands of parents and students across the decades and centuries, these schools have been a lifeline to opportunity, heritage, and emotional, cultural, and social safety. Read More...

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