THE GEORGIA EDUCATIONAL MOVEMENT.(The American Freedmen, February 1867) BY CAPT. J. E. BRYANT.
It is evident that the ruling class at the South will not now provide for the education of the freedmen. A law has been enacted recently by the Georgia Legislature establishing a system of common schools for white children only. The bill provides who may be scholars as follows: "That any free white inhabitant, being a citizen of the United States and of this State, and residing within the limits of any county or school district, organize, -nder this act, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, shall be entitled to the instruction in the Georgia schools in said county or district without charge of tuition or incidental expenses." The laws of Georgia are, we believe, as liberal as those of any of the Southern States. It is evident, therefore, that the work of educating the freedmen must now be undertaken by others besides the ruling class at the South.
The Northern educational associations do not, we believe, propose to establish schools in every county and neighborhood at the South; but they propose to establish first-class schools at central and important points, schools that shall be models. "Then, when these States come to establish a system of their own, they will find one furnished to their hands, and a much better one than they would ever or could ever have provided." It is estimated that some 90,000* persons at the South have been taught by their various missionary and denominational societies. When we remember that four millions of colored persons and other millions of white persons there are ignorant, the work already done seems small. There are in Georgia 131 counties. Schools have been established by Northern associations in less than 15 counties, and yet quite as much, we believe, has been done in Georgia as in most of the Southern States. We can not expect that the Northern societies will do much more this year than they did last. It is, therefore, evident that the great mass of the colored people at the South must remain in ignorance unless they assist in their own education.
An educational movement has been inaugurated in Georgia which, if successful, will excite the wonder and admiration of the friends of education throughout the world. The emancipated slaves, and such white friends as are willing to unite with them, have organized an educational association, and propose to assist in educating the people of that State. This association was organized in January, 1806, and was, at first, a political as well as an educational association; but at the second annual convention, which met in October, the members resolved: "That, while we protest against all partial legislation, and while we demand equal rights for all citizens, we recommend that, for the coming year, the members of our association refrain from public political discussion in the meetings of the association, and exert their entire influence to establish schools and educate the people." It is proposed to establish one or more subordinate associations in every county in the State; that they shall establish schools in their counties and neighborhoods, and that these schools shall be supported entirely by the people among whom they are established.
This association is in no sense a rival of either of the Northern associations. It is proposed to act in harmony with each of them. Indeed, its success depends very much upon the success of Northern associations. Its friend do not ex
* About 150,000 scholars were in attendance last year upon the Bureau schools, some of which, however, were self- supporting.
Expect to establish first-class schools at present; most of them will no doubt be extremely rude at first. The people are poor as well as igno rant, and could not employ first-class teachers, if there were enough at the South. But the people are industrious, and, when they shall be fairly paid for their labor, will rapidly accumulate wealth. In the mean time the schools established by Northern associations will educate teachers who can and will be employed by the colored people; and thus this association will work in harmony with Northern associations, neither plan perfect without the other.
At the October convention, about fifty counties were represented by colored men. It was with great difficulty that associations were organized in these counties. Sometimes the intelligent colored men who organized subordinate associations were driven from the plantation, where they were employed, by their employers. Many planters would not allow the children of those in their employ to attend school. In some counties the most intelligent colored men were obliged to flee to the cities to save their lives. It was difficult to learn the names of intelligent colored men who could read and write; for, in the days of slavery, there had been no leaders among them, and the colored men in one county were unacquainted with intelligent colored men in other counties. The association could send no person to discover these men, for there was no money in ths treasury. Four attempts were made to assassinate the President. Against all these obstacles they have contended, and now schools and associations are being established more rapidly than at any former period.
Five subordinate associations have been organized in the city of Augusta by the colored citizens, and night'schools established by themselves. Each association has chosen a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and school committee. The committee establish the schools, employ and pay the teachers. The scholars pay the expenses. All persons are allowed to attend the schools. The members of the associations do not necessarily attend the schools, neither are seholars necessarily members of the associations. The President of the State association has recently received letters from colored persons in different parts of the State, informing him that associations and schools are being established where there have been none before. One writer, a colored man, says: "The prospects are brightening in this section of the State. There are some colored men in business here and they are doing well. It is true that we have had no schools yet, but the people, since my return from the late convention, have agreed to have the first school in this county open on the first day of January next. The education of our youth is a question in which we are all deeply interested."
It is proposed to hold educational conventions in each of the congressional districts some time during the spring, and it is expected that distinguished friends of education from the North will attend them and address the people. The emancipated slaves have much to learn that they should learn immediately, and that they can not now learn from books. Most of them live in miserable cabins, and, sitting around the fire, eat the hominy from the pot in which it is cooked. They should be taught how to live. Many of them are licentious, and, if they have been married, the marriage tie is but little respected. Indeed, they are ignorant In almost every respect.
The Loyal Georgian is the organ of this association; it is the link which binds the counties together; it is the medium through which information and instruction is conveyed to the most distant counties in the State. Without it this educational movement would accomplish but little; with it, much, very much, will be accomplished.
It is not practicable to employ public speakers to travel through the State; it would cost too much, and such men as it would be profitable to employ could not speak with safety where their instruction is most needed. We must, therefore, rely mainly upon the press to assist in pushing forward this educational movement at the South.
The Loyal Georgian is now read in about fifty counties in Georgia, and it is expected that within a year it will be read in nearly every county in the Stata
In every county some of the colored men can read. In the counties away from the cities the meetings of subordinate associations are usually held on the Sabbath after church service. In many counties two or three thousand colored persons attend these meetings, and one of the members reads the contents of the Loyal Georgian to them. Thus they may be instructed, even if they are not taught to read; thus they may be stimulated to educate themselves; they may be taught to respect the marriage vow more; in short, a reformation may be commenced that will extend throughout the State. It is proposed to enlist in this educational work, if possible, every friend of education in tlie State—Southern men as well as Northern men, white men as well as colored men—and by combined and systematic effort arouse an Interest in the cause of education throughout the State.
This association needs some assistance from Northern friends at this time. If they can now receive $7,000, they believe that the entire plan will be put into successful operation, and that they will never need further assistance from friends, outside of the Stata