Degrees of Equality

By John Frederick Bell,

Book cover of Degrees of Equality: Abolitionist Colleges and the Politics of Race

Book description

The abolitionist movement not only helped bring an end to slavery in the United States but also inspired the large-scale admission of African Americans to the country's colleges and universities. Oberlin College changed the face of American higher education in 1835 when it began enrolling students irrespective of race and…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Degrees of Equality as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book does a fantastic job of illustrating something that I explore in my own work: pro-slavery (and anti-Black) white Americans were not the only obstacles facing abolitionists in the fight for racial equality.

The abolitionist movement itself was often divided along racial lines. Black abolitionists pushed for radical, egalitarian change in all aspects of American life. When push came to shove, however, many of their white counterparts had a limit as to how far they would go.

Bell shows how this dynamic played out at progressive colleges like Oberlin before, during, and after the Civil War. The implications of…

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