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The Cost of Unity: African American Agency and Education in the Christian Church, 1865-1914

By author: Lawrence A. Q. Burnley
Product Code: H775
ISBN: 9780881461343
Product Format: Hardback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability:Not currently available.
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Price: $45.00

Like other Protestant organizations in the United States, the Christian Church was involved in the establishment of schools for African- Americans in the South in the years following the end of the Civil War. The most widely read books offering an interpretation of the history of this church tend to relegate the role of black people to passive recipients of white benevolence and largesse in this process of education reform. This book examines the agency of African-Americans in the founding of educational institutions for blacks associated with the Christian Church. The philosophical discourse within the Christian Church concerning the purpose, type, and control of these schools is examined as well as the prevailing racial assumptions and attitudes that informed each of these areas. The author argues that African-Americans within the Christian Church played an active role, both in cooperating with Disciples’ mission agencies, and acting independent of these agencies, in the conceptualization and founding of schools for their communities. In addition, contrary to Disciples’ reformers claim of being motivated by their desire to “elevate the Negro race,” the nearly exclusive application of the industrial model of education in schools established by the Disciples of Christ mission agencies for African-Americans reflects an intentional effort by whites within this movement to encumber African-American efforts to achieve socioeconomic and political advancement, autonomy, and self-determination. Finally, the conservative approach to schooling for African- Americans was largely the result of northern Disciples’ acquiescence to the demands of Southern members of the church for the sake of maintaining unity within the national church.
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Review by: Lewis V. Baldwin, Professor of Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University - November 4, 2009
The Cost of Unity is a rich and unique contribution to the long-neglected study of African Americans in the Christian Church. Distinguished for its careful research and innovative interpretation, the book is indispensable reading for those who wish to know more about black-white interaction and cooperation in meeting the educational needs of African Americans in the Disciples of Christ in one of the most critical periods in U. S. history. Burnley has rendered a great service to students of both black history and American church historiography."
Review by: Marybeth Gasman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania - October 28, 2009
Lawrence Burnley has written and researched a beautiful book that tells the activist story of African Americans in the creation of Christian Church affliated Black schools. Using myriad primary sources and contextualizing the work of Blacks in educating themselves, he has produced a window into the political and social struggles of African Americans in the United States.

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