Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up To Change a Nation

New York Univ.. Jan. 2020. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9781479847471. $30. BIOG
In this dual biography, Duane (English & American studies, Univ. of Connecticut; Child Slavery Before and After Emancipation) tells the stories of James McCune Smith (1813–65) and Henry Highland Garnet (1815–82). These men led remarkable lives at a time when opportunities for African Americans, even free northerners, were severely circumscribed. Both men attended and formed a lifelong, but at times troubled, friendship at the New York African Free School (NYAFS), a unique school founded in 1787. After graduation, Smith earned a medical degree from Edinburgh University, becoming the first African American to do so. Garnet served as a minister around the country and abroad. Both men found themselves on different sides of the debate about whether African Americans could find a fulfilling place in American society, as Smith believed, or if they could only advance by emigrating from a country that did not want them and settle elsewhere—in Africa, the Caribbean, or South America, as Garnet suggested. Based on extensive archival research, Duane paints a detailed and nuanced picture of black education, including its possibilities and limitations, in the antebellum North.
VERDICT A must-read for those interested in antebellum African American life and education.

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