Color Lines in Learning, Labor, and Law: White-Directed Philanthropies and County Training Schools as Sites of Contest over Black Soci(et)al Agency in North Carolina, 1863 - 1943

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The Ohio State University

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Interest convergence shaped white interactions with African American ex-slaves organizing for educational, labor, and legal power in postbellum North Carolina. Its dialectical influence, however, warrants review across these three spheres viz-a-viz white class politics. Anderson (1988) related Southern Black civic agency with white backlash—Southern workers and planters opposing Black education; and nationwide high-profile investors and officials repurposing it—to prolong caste labor. While correct on discord between two white contingents on Black education, his account under-examines how each contingent repurposed biracial coalitions to prolong white supremacy across different civic spheres (a counterpoint to innovative resistance of the Black subaltern he discussed). This thesis trails such currents in N.C. to New-Deal apartheid, stressing Slater Fund County Training Schools (CTS). Persistent Black enterprising shifted in fiscal and political prospects under white societal tensions—anti-Blackness and infighting—nationally and locally. GOP concessions on Black rights eased federal North-South tensions, but abjection still guided Southern white praxis towards Blacks. Southern white farmers used shared white supremacy to project lily-white Populist politics among planters and mainstream officials across the ex-Confederacy. Friction with Democrat's Confederate fixations pushed lily-white groups to tenuous ventures with Black organizers; both serviced Progressive agendas but whites consolidated their benefits. This exclusion spanned educational policy and finance, working rights and conditions, and the scope of policies and decision-making. White Fusion betrayal and disfranchisement instituted white hegemony and capital accumulation that Black enterprising and coalitions could not dislodge. Democratic-philanthropic control and CTS programs reveal Black usage of domestics and agriculture for communal benefit, but also legal and labor stratifications that enabled New Deal apartheid. The findings raise the need for thoroughgoing reparations.



interest convergence, plantation economy, fugitive pedagogy, Black agency, industrial education, County Training Schools