Left: In 1954 the AFRO not only covered the integration of Black students into White classrooms, but vice-versa as well. Shown here, Mrs. Laura Kuney takes a step towards equality by pulling her children from an all-White school and enrolling them at Giddings School, where students had integrated classrooms.; Center: In 1923, reporters for the AFRO American Newspapers were writing about overcrowded classrooms and buildings with no water. Still today, some of the same issues plague Black classrooms, giving cause for the next generation of AFRO reporters.; Right: In October 1957 AFRO correspondents documented the struggle of nine Black students integrating a high school in Little Rock, Ark. Their hard work and dedication would help push the plight of the “Little Rock Nine” into the national spotlight. (Photos by AFRO Archives)

By Fatiha Belfakir,
Special to the AFRO

Since its establishment in 1892, the AFRO American Newspaper has strongly believed in the role of education as a key to both eradicate racism and transform African-American lives. AFRO reporters have covered a variety of stories related to education including school segregation and funding; experienced and qualified educators; academic success, performance of Black students and limited educational resources for socially excluded communities, to name a few. 

The road was bumpy during an era of oppression, yet, AFRO News walked with pride and determination to lead Black society to a better destination with equal educational opportunities.

Myrtle Webb, Ed.D, 79, a former teacher and school principal specialized in education and curriculum development, witnessed the evolution of the AFRO American Newspapers in covering stories related to school segregation, Black teachers and African-American students’ performance. Webb recalls coverage of education topics for the Black community, including the Brown v. Board of Education and Ruby Nell Bridges cases, which mark the ending era of legalized school segregation in the United States.

“There were a myriad of stories related to education, both nationally and locally, that were reported in the AFRO American Newspaper over the years,” said Webb. “AFRO News fought against school segregation.”

“It always salutes and mentions Black students and activists’ victories, who are doing outstanding work and might not get the necessary attention in the White press,” she continued.

Reading AFRO News stories about Morgan State University has a different meaning for Webb. While attending the University Webb experienced racism firsthand. She recalls protesting the fact that Morgan students were not allowed to attend shows inside of Northwood’s movie theater in 1963. Many of Webb’s friends were among the more than 300 students arrested when they attempted to enter the building.

“I am very pleased to see AFRO News covering stories about Morgan State University, which demolish and rebuild it. The center reopened last week as the now fabulous Northwood Commons,” said Webb.

Even though AFRO News has come a long way, the journey is far from finished. Now more than ever, the role of the AFRO is critical in the development of educational institutions and policies for African-American students.

Black students overrepresented in special education is obvious, in addition to the gap in the data of their achievement and performance compared to their counterparts.

The AFRO has no choice but to continue its assertiveness and involvement in schools. There are deeper, more complicated stories to be told, stereotypes to be challenged and truths to be uncovered. 

Students, educators, families, and policymakers in the African-American community need to have a voice and presence in the improvement of the Black students’ educational experience and the development of equal educational policies.

Still, in 2022, the AFRO is on the frontlines of covering education issues. As school systems around the globe shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, the AFRO was reporting on the pivot to distance learning, the emotional wellbeing of students in isolation and the concerns of contracting COVID-19 in a classroom.

Included in that coverage were the voices of Black students in buildings with no air and Black coaches, who adequately modified their physical education courses for online platforms. 

For 130 years, the AFRO has explored the issues of Black education, highlighting triumphs and examining defeats.

“If you take the AFRO News out of the equation, we will have absolutely no presence. Nobody will document the history of Black people in terms of education and opportunities,” said Webb.

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