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Envisioning Black Colleges

, 288 pages

26 halftones, 3 line drawings

April 2018



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Envisioning Black Colleges

A History of the United Negro College Fund

Winner of the 2008 Outstanding Publication Award given by the American Educational Research Association Division J.

Etched into America's consciousness is the United Negro College Fund's phrase "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This book tells the story of the organization's efforts on behalf of black colleges against the backdrop of the cold war and the civil rights movement.

Founded during the post–World War II period as a successor to white philanthropic efforts, the UNCF nevertheless retained vestiges of outside control. In its early years, the organization was restrained in its critique of segregation and reluctant to lodge a challenge against institutional and cultural racism. Through cogent analysis of written and oral histories, archival documents, and the group's outreach and advertising campaigns, historian Marybeth Gasman examines the UNCF’s struggle to create an identity apart from white benefactors and to evolve into a vehicle for black empowerment.

The first history of the UNCF, Envisioning Black Colleges draws attention to the significance of black colleges in higher education and the role they played in Americans’ struggle for equality.

Marybeth Gasman is the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the coauthor of Educating a Diverse Nation: Lessons from Minority Serving Institutions and The Morehouse Mystique: Becoming a Doctor at the Nation's Newest African American Medical School.

"A vivid and comprehensive account of the history of the United Negro College Fund."

"Reveals the multifaceted story of the organization's effort on behalf of black colleges."

"So many issues are imbedded in the intersection of race and philanthropy, yet so few researchers have tried to probe them. Gasman is to be admired for being bold enough to examine the 'double consciousness' that existed for both Blacks and Whites in leading and supporting the UNCF."

"A thoughtful, incisive history of the UNCF."

"A solid basis for continued consideration of the intersections of race, philanthropy, and higher education."

"Gasman convinces the reader that agency is complex and compelling, and as a result she reminds the reader that the historical and contemporary ironies of opportunity in this democracy deserve exploration and discussion."

"Envisioning Black Colleges is a worthy addition to the larger field of philanthropic history, and it brings new depth to the study of the history of African American higher education in the US."

"Marybeth Gasman has provided an excellent study of the United Negro College Fund."

"Professor Gasman fills an important and neglected gap in the history of black higher education and its ongoing relationship with philanthropy in the mid- to late-twentieth century."

"Gasman's book is a very informative history of the founding and the evolution of the UNCF during the period examined. Her use of visual images from UNCF campaign advertisements is powerful, underscoring their strong symbolism reflective of the times and each story deftly told."

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