THE STORY OF DUNBAR HIGH SCHOOL: HOW STUDENTS FROM THE FIRST PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL FOR BLACK STUDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES INFLUENCED AMERICA
Mitchell, Kenneth Alphonso`
THE STORY OF DUNBAR HIGH SCHOOL: HOW STUDENTS FROM THE FIRST PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL FOR BLACK STUDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES INFLUENCED AMERICAKenneth Alphonso Mitchell, Jr., A.B.MALS Mentor: Maurice Jackson, Ph.D.ABSTRACTDunbar High School is the first public high school for black children in the United States and the first public high school in Washington, D.C. The school was founded in 1870, as the Preparatory High School for colored youth; and was also the first public high school in Washington, D.C. The school changed names many times before it was finally named Dunbar, after poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The story of this school is important because many of the students and teachers of the school went on to become some of the most notable blacks in America. From 1870 until 1955, when the United States Supreme Court declared segregation in District of Columbia public schools unconstitutional in the landmark case, Bolling v. Sharpe, which was also supplemented with Brown v. Board of Education; the school had a reputation for being the best black high school in the country and its teachers were some of the best scholars this country had to offer. Dunbar was able to attract teachers with outstanding credentials because most colleges, at the time, did not hire black professors; neither did employers in most professions that required college degrees. Brilliant scholars like Richard Greener, the first black graduate of Harvard College; Anna Julia Cooper, an outstanding educator and the first black graduated of the University of Paris-Sorbonne in Paris, France; and Carter G. Woodson, the historian known as "the father of black history;" all flocked to Washington, D.C. Many notable African-Americans who made a positive impact on society, like Dr. Charles Richard Drew, the physician who perfected the use of blood plasma; Charles Hamilton Houston, a Civil Rights attorney and "the man who killed Jim Crow;" and Georgiana Simpson, the first black woman to receive a Ph.D.; attended this hidden gem in Washington, D.C. These individuals broke many racial barriers that impeded progress for blacks.This thesis will analyze these people and their accomplishments; show how they were able to achieve so much success at a time when blacks did not have opportunities; and explain how many barriers to progress for African Americans may not have been reached if it were not for the people who were a part of Dunbar High. This will be achieved through an examination of the history of education for blacks in Washington, D.C. I will also discuss in detail the notable people of Dunbar who have led the way in education, sports, women's history, politics, religion, military, entertainment, law, medicine, business, and black Greek lettered organizations.
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