Education and Racial Uplift
Education was a critical component of “racial uplift,” an ethos which developed in the Black community around the turn of the 20th century. Encapsulated in W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903), this idea emerged largely in response to the attrition of post-Civil War civil rights gains and a related increase in violence directed at the Black community.
Almost all of DU’s Black alumnae from 1900-1945 earned bachelor of arts degrees and went on to become public school teachers. Though many hailed from Colorado, most had parents who had been born in the deep South and migrated West. After graduation, many alumnae who became educators moved to states with de jure (by law) segregation, as Colorado’s Black population was small and they were not eligible to seek employment in Colorado’s de facto segregated schools until the late 1930s.