At one and the same time, Thomas de Saliere Tucker's life and career in academia exemplified the triumph of liberty and human rights over slavery in the second half of the 19th century and the difficulty often encountered by those who challenged the long-held notion that equal education could be provided to blacks and whites in separate but equal educational institutions. In 1889 the Florida Superintendent of Public Instruction proclaimed that "it has become a settled policy in the State that competent colored teachers shall be employed to teach the colored children and youth."1 Seven years later, the United States Supreme Court decided Plessy v. Ferguson. There, the Court held that the establishment of separate schools for white and black students was a valid exercise of legislative power, and it was, therefore, a "fallacy of the plaintiffs argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority."2 The educational philosophy of the day harkened back to the mindset of colonization, an early 19th century scheme that proposed the establishment of black-run independent republics in the Caribbean or Africa in order to avoid a race war in the United States. By the end of the century educational leaders presupposed that blacks and whites could be educated in separate schools and that adult blacks could "then be brought up, at the public expense, to tillage, arts or sciences, according to their geniuses."3 As the United States became more industrialized, agricultural and industrial education became the model that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) followed.
Dumbuya, Peter A.
"Thomas de Saliere Tucker: Reconciling Industrial and Liberal Arts Education at Florida's Normal School for Colored Teachers, 1887-1901,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 89:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol89/iss1/4