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First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School (2013)

Author: Alison Stewart [link to author's website]
Publisher: School Review Press
Number of pages: 352 pages

Dunbar High School in Washington, DC defied the odds and, in the process, changed America. In the first half of the twentieth century, Dunbar was an academically elite school, despite being racially segregated by law and existing at the mercy of racist congressmen who held the schools purse strings. These enormous challenges did not stop the local community from rallying for the cause of educating its children. Dunbar attracted an amazing faculty: one early principal was the first black graduate of Harvard, almost all the teachers had graduate degrees, and several earned PhDs, all extraordinary achievements given the Jim Crow laws of the times. Over the schools first eighty years, these teachers developed generations of highly educated, high achieving African Americans, groundbreakers that included the first black member of a presidential cabinet, the first black graduate of the US Naval Academy, the first black army general, the creator of the modern blood bank, the first black Attorney General, the legal mastermind behind school desegregation, and hundreds of educators. By the 1950s, Dunbar was sending 80 percent of its students to college. Today, as with many urban public schools, there are Dunbar students who struggle with academics. First Class tells the rich history of Dunbars rise to excellence and its current path to resurgence.

ISBN 13: 978-1613740095