While there can be no absolute measure of the increase in intelligence of a people, fair indications, without doubt, are furnished by the facts about progress in provision for education and by evidences of the results among the people.
Gradual gains have been made in developing common schools for the Negro in the South. The initiative for this has been very largely due to church and other private funds. The pioneer church missionary teachers laid the foundations. Probably the greatest step forward has been the gradual change in the attitude of Southern white people toward Negro education. In 1920 it was reported that $13,000,000 was appropriated from public funds for Negro schools in Southern states.1
The attitude of county and state officers in several states controlling the distribution of school funds has been changing toward a larger and more equitable apportionment of public funds. This change of sentiment has been fostered by the Jeanes and Slater Funds, and by the state supervisors of Negro rural schools supported by the General Education Board and operating under state boards of education.2 There is still, however, a long way to go. One leading Negro educator in a Southern state said: "The thing hardest for me to understand about some of my white friends, men whom I know intimately to be men who are square and liberal in all my dealings with them, is their willingness to go into a meeting and agree to take public school funds rightfully belonging to Negroes and appropriate them for schools for white children. How those men can square their action with their conscience is more than I can square with my belief in their integrity".
That there will continue to be improvement is shown by the action of the state of North Carolina in making liberal appropriations for Negro education from 1919 to 1922 of between one and two millions of dollars for high school, normal school, vocational, and agricultural education. It was a broad, liberal-minded, statesmanlike step. The state of Oklahoma has recently restored about a million dollars of public funds to education of Negroes of the state. The provisions for secondary and higher educational institutions are probably increasing more slowly than those for the elementary schools. The higher institutions have to furnish the teachers, principals, supervisors, and superintendents for the elementary schools. They have the responsibility also of giving the academic training to all the other professional classes. The ministers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, writers, editors, and artists among the ten millions of Negroes in the United States should have the most thorough, advanced training.
1 Stokes, Anson Phelps, Southern Workman, March, 1922, pp. 114-116. 2 Annual Report of the General Education Board, pp. 84-86.
Special mention may be made of the need of provision for training ministers. The majority of those now serving nearly 40,000 Negro churches have had very limited training. Besides, the ranks must be kept closed as many become superannuated, leave the profession, or pass away. A recent estimate showed an annual need of 1,200 men with only about 100 being prepared in existing religious-training institutions.
In 1920 a most careful accounting showed probably not more than one hundred real public high schools for Negroes in the towns and cities of the sixteen Southern states. There were none in the rural districts, excepting probably a few county training-schools that may be so rated.
In 1917-18, according to the state superintendents, there were in the sixteen Southern states and the District of Columbia 3,076,482 Negro children of school age. Of those, 2,039,706 or 66 per cent were enrolled in public schools. There were 36,585 Negro public school teachers and 64 public high schools. Negroes who could not read and write in 1860 were estimated at more than 90 per cent. In 1920 they were estimated at less than 25 per cent. There were two normal schools and colleges for Negroes, probably no higher than secondary grade, in 1860; in 1920 there were more than 500 institutions of secondary, normal, and college grades.
The percentages of the Negro children in the schools in comparison with all those of school age range from 88 per cent in the District of Columbia, 83 per cent in Oklahoma, 75.3 per cent in North Carolina, 53 per cent in Florida to a little over 60 per cent in Alabama, Maryland, and South Carolina, 43.6 per cent in Louisiana. The inadequate provision for Negro schools from public funds is illustrated by the meager salaries paid. Between 1910 and 1915 for 15 states and the District of Columbia the per capita salary for each white child was $10.32, and $2.89 for each Negro child.1
In the South, where practically all the schools for Negroes are located, about 18 per cent of the total expenditure for education in 1910 was for Negroes, although they made up about 30 per cent of the population. There has doubtless been considerable improvement during the twelve succeeding years, but figures are not available. The result is that a very large proportion of Negro children are not in school in spite of the eagerness and willingness of their parents. More than 50 per cent of the Negro children six to twenty years of age in the South and more than 40 per cent in the North in 1910 were not in school, while more than 35 per cent of the white children in the South were not in school. The disparity between Negro children not in school and white children not in school was greatest in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.
1 Figures given are taken from the Negro Year Book, edited by Monroe N. Work; from the Report on Negro Education by U. S. Bureau of Education edited by Dr. T. J. Jones; from Census Report, Negro Population in the United States 1790-1915; and from the Negro section of the World Survey, American Volume, Interchurch World Movement, prepared by the author.