An Illustrated History
In Berea College: An Illustrated History, Shannon H. Wilson unfolds the saga of one of Kentucky's most distinguished institutions of higher education, centering his narrative on the eight presidents who have served Berea. The college's founder, John G. Fee, was a staunch abolitionist and believer in Christian egalitarianism who sought to build a college that "would be to Kentucky what Oberlin was to Ohio, antislavery, anti-caste, anti-rum, anti-sin." Indeed, the connection to Oberlin is evident in the college's abolitionist roots and commitment to training African American teachers, preachers, and industrial leaders. Black and white students lived, worked, and studied together in interracial dorms and classrooms; the extent of Berea's reformist commitment is most evident in an 1872 policy allowing interracial dating and intermarriage among its student body. Although the ratio of black to white students was nearly equal in the college's first twenty years, this early commitment to the education of African Americans was shattered in 1904, when the Day Law prohibited the races from attending school together. Berea fought the law until it lost in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 but later returned to its commitment to interracial education in 1950, when it became the first undergraduate college in Kentucky to admit African Americans. Berea's third president, William Goodell Frost, shifted attention toward "Appalachian America" during the interim, and this mission to reach out to Appalachians continues today. Wilson also chronicles the creation of Berea's many unique programs designed to serve men and women in Kentucky and beyond. A university extension program carried Berea's educational opportunities into mountain communities.
Later, the New Opportunity School for Women was set up to help adult women return to the job market by offering them career workshops, job experience on campus, and educational and cultural enrichment opportunities. More recently, the college developed the Black Mountain Youth Leadership Program, designed to reduce the isolation of African Americans in Appalachia and encourage cultural literacy, academic achievement, and community service.
Berea College explores the culture and history of one of America's most unique institutions of higher learning. Complemented by more than 180 historic photographs, Wilson's narrative documents Berea's majestic and inspiring story.
"In a series of black and white photos and Wilson's studied text, we follow the progressive growth of a school that took an early, and for the South, rare stand with its feet planted firmly in the belief that all were welcome regardless of race or gender."—Chevy Chaser
"[A] straightforward history of the college from its founding to the present... with very readable text and a photograph on essentially every page. The author lives up to the goal he states in his Introduction: to show the kind of college Berea is, what it is like to be a student there, and how it has influenced society."—Kentucky Kaleidoscope
"All who read Wilson's account of Berea College will acknowledge the school's uniqueness and appreciate its contribution to American life."—Marion Lucas, Western Kentucky University
"This impressive volume contains facts and photographs depicting campus life throughout Bereas long history."—Modern Mountain
"Wilson has captured both the written and graphic collective memory of this distinctive Kentucky institution that has strong national influence and renown. . . . Berea College is a book that has been needed for years. The photographs and elegant writing bring out the qualities that have made Berea College's story unique in its challenges and resourceful achievements."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
|University Press of Kentucky|
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