Education Reform

Graduating Class of Atlanta School of Social Work, circa 1920
Georgia Congress of Colored Teachers and Parents, c1930
Berry College
Children of the Confederacy

Women would drastically shape Georgia’s public education system in the Progressive Era. Black women stressed education as the primary avenue to racial equality and took a lead role in establishing programs that expanded Black educational opportunities. In the Black community, educational institutions operated as avenues for reform with Black schools and universities serving as hubs for community outreach. Women who attended Black southern colleges were encouraged to use their education to respond to local problems, aided in part by emerging fields for Black women in nursing, teaching, and social work. Education reform for white women both encompassed and transcended their desire for independence. Denied admissions to many colleges in Georgia and barred from participating in politics, white women identified with other white groups who were neglected by public institutions. White women linked inadequate schooling in poor, white communities in rural areas with their own desire to gain independence through educational opportunities. While campaigning for admission to universities in Georgia, female-run boarding schools, and employment for female teachers, they also fought for the expansion and improvement of rural school systems, established industrial schools to teach modern skills, and created public kindergartens.