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Freedom, Democracy, And The Right To Education, Derek W. Black Jan 2022

Freedom, Democracy, And The Right To Education, Derek W. Black

Faculty Publications

While litigation continues in an effort to establish a fundamental right to education under the U.S. Constitution, the full historical justification for this right remains missing—a fatal flaw for many jurists. This Article fills that gap, demonstrating that the central, yet entirely overlooked, justification for a federal right to education resides in America’s education story during the era of slavery and Reconstruction.

At that time, education was first and foremost about freedom. The South had criminalized education to maintain a racialized hierarchy that preserved slavery. Many African Americans, seeing education as the means to both mental and physical freedom, made …