First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School [Book review]

firstclass

Those who know of Washington, D.C.’s Dunbar High School likely view it as one of the city’s failing public schools, hardly a piece of national history. Alison Stewart, a journalist and daughter of Dunbar graduates, proves otherwise in First Class. At its height Dunbar attracted an outstanding faculty and produced a long list of accomplished graduates despite intense racial discrimination: Charles R. Drew established the blood bank, faculty member Carter G. Woodson became a noted author, historian, and journalist, and civil rights activist and faculty member Mary Church Terrell was one of the first black women to earn a college degree. As society changed, however, so did Dunbar. Today, the newly remodeled building bears the socioeconomic weight of its neighborhood, but also holds a newfound hope for the future. Stewart’s personal and compelling examination shows how long-term under-funding, politics, and social factors shaped the Dunbar of today–a theme all too common among urban public schools.

(Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of STAND, the ACLU magazine)summer2014

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s