This series follows in the tradition of Chelsea House's African-American Achievers series in spotlighting various groups and organizations, and examining their historical and social impact. Historically, African-American colleges and universities arose from a need for African-Americans to have access to higher education. African-Americans started their own universities and colleges to ensure that they could obtain a college education without discrimination.
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Reviewed with Joe Ferry's The History of African-American Civic Organizations.
Gr. 7-12. Part of the umbrella American Mosaic series, these African-American Contributions titles examine complex issues. Ferry, who deals with the world of the black elite, covers a subject seldom addressed. He takes a look at sororities, fraternities, and social and business clubs for children and adults, explaining how and why they were founded, who joins, and what members do. His writing is sometimes rambling and repetitive, and he misspells some words, but his portraits of famous people enliven the story, and he does a good job of discussing the social and community service aspects of the organizations as well as the elitism and exclusion. Peltak weaves together the history of black colleges and universities with the history of the struggle for education and equality, and discusses the elemental debate between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois about what blacks should learn. Looking closely at various institutions, she shows why enrollment at black schools has increased, and how institutions that arose in response to racism have become sources of power and enrichment. Both titles are sure to spark discussion. Glossary, bibliography, and Web sites. Hazel Rochman
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