Faithful, Firm and True Book Critique

Dr. Titus Brown is a History professor at Florida A&M University located in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a graduate of Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. He is the author of many books including the wonderful Faithful, Firm and True. Faithful, Firm and True gives the readers a detailed look at how formal and organized education was created in the South for free blacks. Assuming Dr. Brown did extensive research to basically travel back in the past to gain knowledge on the inception of something so historical

and life changing in society. The question being answered here is how was an education system formed for African Americans, what were the trials and tribulations of the establishment for formal education for African Americans and what was the success of it. And Dr. Brown answered these questions thoroughly in Faithful, Firm and True highlighting the education system in Macon, Georgia and the establishment of Lewis and Ballard High Schools.

To illustrate the foundation of formal and organized education for African Americans in the South, Dr. Brown presents the Freedmen’s Bureau and its efforts, accomplishments and failures. In the book, Dr. Brown provides recollections of individuals who were educators during this time. The era is during the Reconstruction, post-Civil War. He mentions one educator’s experience, William Cole. According to Dr. Brown, “Cole and other teachers were promised pay of twenty-five dollars per month plus a special allowance of thirty cents per day for rations. After working for four months, Cole wrote Superintendent Eberhart complaining that the teachers “have received but two months pay without the stipulated amount for rations”.” Dr. Brown proceeds to add Cole stating that, “Parents of the students paid nothing, “as they were not able to pay to have their children taught.” Moreover, inadequate funds prevented the school from obtaining uniform textbooks for students.” Lastly Dr. Brown lets it be known that “Cole’s class purchased its own books at a “very high price”.” This was merely one the problems that posed during this period. White men ran the country and not much effort was put forward in the education of blacks. It was a system of oppression, one we still see today. To obtain work for money, one most likely had to be educated, with no resources for education, one was left uneducated and unable to obtain work, so they most likely had to return a pseudo form of slavery in order to survive after being legally emancipated.

Dr. Brown makes it clear that it was a struggle for blacks to obtain education. The reader learns that many schools geared for African American education were in the basements of churches and most likely solely funded by clergy and church members who had children enrolled.

The Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedmen’s Aid Commission alike were enacted for the advancements of African Americans. They worked hard at sticking to their word but as one can read, they often failed. The Freedmen’s Bureau and other organizations were typically ran by Republican politicians but once terrorist groups like the KKK rose to power and started terrorizing individuals like those associated with the Freedmen’s Bureau and African Americans, they began to back away. Eventually, these initiatives were closed down and people of power backed out assuming there will be no end to the violence and opposition basically leaving the individuals they intended to help to fend for themselves. This brought upon the establishment of the AMA, the American Missionary Association. The AMA used the four schools already established in Macon and saw that additional schools were opened such as those in the outbuilding in the Lincoln Home Yard and a room in the Freedmen’s Hospital. The AMA also oversaw the proposal of the first school building in Macon, Georgia. Enrollment dropped when a tuition fee was announced but the individuals in the system raised $1,500 to help and enrollment rose. The school system endured many rise and falls in its establishment but that never stopped production.

Dr. Brown’s argument of the hardships that were endured in the establishment of the education system of African Americans is valid and persuasive, in the sense that reader was thoroughly educated and able to understand and maybe empathize with this struggle and the end feeling of accomplishment. In the end we see clearly that Ballard students were well educated and advanced on to other positions, mostly of leadership and also giving back by educating others as they were educated. The reader is able to grasp something so simple as, Hard Work does pay off.