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(1899) Lucy Craft Laney, “The Burden of the Educated Colored Woman”

Lucy Craft Laney was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1854, into a family of ten children. Taught to read and write by her mother, a domestic worker, she graduated from Macons Lewis High School and entered Atlanta University at the age of fifteen and graduated in 1873. Laney taught in the Georgia public schools for ten years and in 1883, with the aid of the Presbyterian Board of Missions, opened Haines Normal School in Augusta.  By 1914, Haines Normal School boasted over thirty teachers and nine hundred pupils and had gained a reputation as an outstanding liberal arts institution. A talented orator, Laney often spoke to the need for greater support for education. In July 1899 she addressed the Hampton Negro Conference on the need for more black women teachers at every level of the educational system, from kindergarten to college.  The text of Laneys address was published the Report of the Hampton Negro Conference in July 1899 and is reprinted below.

If the educated colored woman has a burden, and we believe she has- what is that burden? How can it be lightened, how may it be lifted? What it is can be readily seen perhaps better than told, for it constantly annoys to irritation; it bulges out as did the load of Bunyans Christian ignorance with its inseparable companions, shame and crime and prejudice. That our position may be more readily understood, let us refer to the past...

During the days of training in our first mission school slavery that which is the foundation of right training and good government, the basic rock of all true culture the home, with its fire side training, mothers molding, womans care, was not only neglected but utterly disregarded. There was no time in the institution for such teaching. We know that there were, even in the first days of that school, isolated cases of men and women of high moral character and great intellectual worth, as Phillis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, and John Chavers [Chavis?], whose work and lives should have taught, or at least suggested to their instructors,