African-American teachers educated African Americans and taught each other to read during slavery in the South. Slaves ran small schools in secret, since teaching a slave to read was a crime (see Slave codes). While, in the North, African Americans worked alongside with Whites. Many privileged African Americans in the North wanted their children taught with White children, and were pro-integration. The Black middle class preferred segregation. During the post-Reconstruction era African Americans built their own schools so they didn't have White control. The Black middle class believed that it could provide quality education for their community. This resulted in the foundation of teaching as a profession for Blacks. Some Black families had multiple individuals who dedicated their lives to teaching. They felt that they could empower their communities. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Southern States passed Jim Crow laws to mandate racial segregation in all aspects of society, and prevent Blacks from voting. Racism made it difficult for Black professionals to work in other professions. In 1950, African American teachers made up about half of African-American professionals.
The Great Depression in the 1930s had a dramatic economic impact among Southern Black Americans. This resulted in the degradation of segregated Black schools. African Americans were deteriorating economically and pled for integration, in hopes of making more resources available. The legal desegregation of schools in the U.S. by federal enforcement of a series of Supreme Court decisions following Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Desegregation resulted in the closure of Black schools and the loss of most jobs for African-American teachers. Whites didn't want their children taught by Black teachers. The African-American communities lost their leaders and role models. It created a distrust in schools from the Black community.
- Davis, Ronald L.F., PhD. "Creating Jim Crow: In-Depth Essay". The History of Jim Crow. New York Life Insurance Company. Archived from the original on June 14, 2002. Retrieved June 7, 2007.
- Davis, Ronald, PHD. "Surviving Jim Crow". The History of Jim Crow. New York Life Insurance Company. Archived from the original on 2012-05-26.
- Gordon, J. (n.d.). African American Teachers