Bell’s remarkable book examines racial politics at three “abolitionist colleges” that offered interracial education in the nineteenth century—Oberlin College, Berea College, and the short-lived New York Central College (1848–1860), which was the most radical of the group. These schools were among the institutions in the United States most committed to multiracial democracy. According to Bell, although the schools were run largely by white men, the Black students were the ones continually pushing the colleges to honor their commitment to universal human equality. These colleges emerged when racist violence and prejudice were spreading and hardening in both the North and South. Black students also faced challenges on these supposedly enlightened campuses. The most progressive white allies were not immune to fears of amalgamation—interracial mixing—which clearly showed limits in white egalitarian thinking. As in the abolitionist movement generally, white paternalism and its emphasis on racial uplift also worked against the universalist equality...
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March 01 2023
Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race by John Frederick Bell
Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race. By
Louisiana State University Press,
Virginia Military Institute
Online ISSN: 1530-9169
Print ISSN: 0022-1953
© 2023 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.
The Journal of Interdisciplinary History (2023) 53 (4): 659–661.
Mark Boonshoft; Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race by John Frederick Bell. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2023; 53 (4): 659–661. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/jinh_r_01923
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