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Blacks’ educational struggle topic of program

African Americans had to struggle for many years to get a good education in Virginia, several speakers said during a Black History Month program Saturday at T.C. Walker Education Center in Gloucester.

In the days of slavery, local historian Dr. Dorothy Cooke said, blacks were generally forbidden to learn to read and write. Few field hands were educated, but some slaves who worked in the plantation houses were taught to read, she said.

But even though blacks were generally not allowed to learn to read back then, Cooke said, some churches taught blacks not only scripture during Sunday school but also how to read.

In the early 1900s, Cooke said, a local map shows 22 schools for black children in Gloucester. These were neighborhood schools, she said, with some little more than sheds.

Retired Gloucester educator Patricia Brown said that one black man who developed a “thirst for education” was Thomas Calhoun Walker, born in the year that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipatio...

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