W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the first historians to document the freedmen's deep commitment to education and demonstrated that African Americans played a critical role in establishing universal public education as fundamental to southern state constitutions during congressional Reconstruction. Many slaves had taken risks to learn to read although forbidden to do so by law; African Americans started "native schools" before the end of the war; Sabbath schools were another widespread means freedmen created for teaching literacy. When they gained suffrage, black politicians took this commitment to public education to state constitutional conventions.


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