secret education

Clandestine defined:   done in a private place or way : done secretly.

Slave defined:  person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.

Education defined: the action or process of teaching someone especially in a school.

Many people have been taught through the years that slaves were uneducated.  This is not true.  There were some schools in the south called Clandestine schools where slaves would go to receive basic skills.  Those who taught in these ‘secret’ schools risked life and limb to educate folks who were being deprived of so many basic necessities for survival in life.  Education is one of those necessities.  We know that some white Abolitionist snuck into slave encampments in order to teach reading and writing as well as the scriptures of the Bible.  Having a slave capable of reading was considered to be dangerous.  The slave master would not want his/her slave to be able to read and know their financial worth.  This is why so many people died in the fight to free the slaves minds through education.  The eventual goal, as we all know, was to end slavery altogether.  Let’s go beyond the surface, shall we?

In Savannah, Georgia there was a free woman of color who operated a ‘clandestine” school.   Her name was Jane Deveaux.   The story goes something like this: “pupils arrived with baskets of sewing materials to appear that they were simply dropping off work for the Deveaux family, but books and writing materials were concealed at the bottom of the baskets.”  Many of these clandestine schools throughout the South have been torn down but the Deveaux building still stands.  When you come to Savannah, Georgia, you can see it for yourself.  There is so much more to tell.  We have only scratched the surface.


Malinda Gwyn


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