The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools

Vanessa Siddle Walker. New Press, $32.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-620971-05-5
In this narrative history backed up with detailed scholarship, Walker, professor of African-American educational studies at Emory University, sheds light on the mostly unsung heroes—black teachers, principals, and other school personnel—in the battle for equal education in the South leading up to Brown v. Board of Education. Drawing on two years of interviews and the long-hidden archives of lifelong education activist Horace Tate, a former Georgia state senator who was a school teacher and principal in his younger years, the author recounts how Tate and others secretly fought the “separate but equal” ethos to get roomier buildings, school buses, and other educational necessities for African-American pupils. Their work had to be clandestine because, Walker writes, “even those trying to fly under the radar who attempted to challenge inequality could pay with their livelihoods, their health and sometimes their lives.” Walker gleans facts and colorful details from documents like letters and meeting minutes to illuminate how the personable Tate and his colleagues, “masterly tricksters,” deliberately obfuscated their activist roles behind their docile public faces as teachers and principals. This well-told and inspiring tale, with its rarely discussed angle on the school segregation fight, will draw in readers interested in meaningful work and activism, or just a well-told tale. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2018
Release date: 07/31/2018
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