Although teacher diversity, teacher preparation, and student achievement are contemporary and overlapping issues, they have suffered from the absence of African American educational principles and traditions. African Americans cultivated a sophisticated system of developing and supporting numbers of African American teachers; however, U.S. sociopolitical tactics have suppressed this method, which presently, has obscured the potential of this approach to effectively respond to contemporary issues in teacher education. The authors of this article seek to address current dilemmas in recruiting and preparing a diverse teaching force by reorienting teacher education toward an underutilized resource—African American pedagogical excellence. This article outlines the core attributes of African American pedagogical excellence, including its historical genesis, and reveals ways public school desegregation has jeopardized the transcendence of African American pedagogical excellence within teacher education. The article concludes with possibilities and recommendations for moving African American pedagogical excellence from margin to center in teacher education.
This work is a case history of Lincoln High School, a southern all-African American K–12 institution during the latter period of de jure segregation (1921–1955). Lincoln High School is the second of two historic African American educational institutions in Gainesville, Florida. It was born out of The Union Academy, an institution that began at the close of the Civil War. Together, these two institutions constitute over one hundred years of seamless African American led education in the city. During the period of de jure segregation, African American education—particularly the development of secondary schools and higher education institutions—was systemically undermined. However, African American educators worked within and around the system designed by white educators to fight for education’s promise and potential.