Presented by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

February 21, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. EST

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Gilder Lehrman Book Breaks features the most exciting history scholars in America discussing their books with host William Roka live, followed by a Q&A with home audiences.

Join us online on Sunday, February 21 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET (11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PT) with Kabria Baumgartner as she discusses her book “In Pursuit of Knowledge: Black Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America.”

Most people learn about school desegregation in the context of the mid-twentieth-century South: Brown v. Board of Education, Ruby Bridges, and the Little Rock Nine. Yet a century before that, African American women and girls in the North led the fight for equal school rights—the right of all to a quality education on an equal basis. Massachusetts was the epicenter of the equal school rights movement, which began in the 1830s and continued through the 1860s, spreading to Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Baumgartner examines the educational lives of young African American women like Sarah Harris, Rosetta Morrison, Sarah Parker Remond, and Eunice Ross. These young women adopted a range of protest strategies, from writing editorials on education and petitioning local school committees to boycotting racially segregated schools. Amid this surge of activism, these young women became educational reformers, and their valuable work reshaped public education in and around the Northeast.

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