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When the South Said, 'No,' Teachers College Said, 'Yes'

A Teachers College alumni event at the Governor’s mansion in Georgia this past fall brought to light the large numbers of black alumni from the South who attended the College in the 1940s and ‘50s.

A Teachers College alumni event at the Governor's mansion in Georgia this past fall brought to light the large numbers of black alumni from the South who attended the College in the 1940s and ‘50s. There was a time when higher education opportunities were limited for blacks living in the South, and they looked to graduate schools in the North to provide those advantages.


One Couple's Experience


When Wiley Bolden left the army at the end of World War II, he planned to continue his education. He had already received a B.S. in chemistry from Alabama State Teachers College (now Alabama State University). As a man of color living in Alabama in the 1940s, Bolden's choices for graduate school were limited to schools in the North. "At that time, we were restricted in attending any of the graduate schools in the south except Atlanta University, which offered only a master's degree," Bolden explained. "No other school in the South at that time would admit black students seeking a degree beyond a bachelor's."

To satisfy the federal government, Southern states agreed to pay the difference between the cost of attending a southern university and the costs for black students to attend school outside the region. "They paid the difference in tuition, room and board, and train fare back and forth," said Bolden.

Bolden's wife, Willie, attended Teachers College in the summers under this program. She received her M.A. in teaching of social studies in 1948. Bolden joined her, and earned a master's degree in psychological services in 1947. "We had grown up under segregation, and it was a hostile environment in the South," Bolden said. "We knew things would be somewhat different in New York, and TC was particularly receptive. TC's willingness to serve and be helpful was evident. I enjoyed that atmosphere."

He continued his doctoral studies at TC during the summers while working at Clark College in Atlanta. In 1953, he received a one-year fellowship to complete his doctorate, which he did in 1954. He wrote his dissertation on comparing student-centered and teacher-centered education and received his Ed.D. in psychological services in 1957.


Coming Back for More After the End of Segregation

Oliver Greene also came to Teachers College as part of the same program, receiving an M.A. in secondary school administration in 1957. He returned in 1963 for a professional diploma in elementary school administration, which he received in 1967.

"My experience at TC was exceptional because it really provided crucial skills in school administration," Greene said. "I was greatly influenced by one of my professors at Morris Brown College who told me to go to one of the largest schools in the East." Greene taught high school history and attended TC in the summers, and as soon as he received his master's, he became an elementary school principal.

An Education Worth Paying For

Others came to Teachers College without the help of Southern financial aid. Rosa Beard, who attended the College in the summers and taught high school in Georgia during the school year, paid for school on her own. "I was not aware of the program for black students to study at graduate schools in the North until I almost graduated," Beard said. She worked in the TC cafeteria during the summers she attended. Beard received her M.A. in science education in 1951 and taught chemistry at Thomas Walter Josey Comprehensive High School in Augusta, Georgia, until 1983.

Putting Education to Work in the North and South

Ulysses Byas came to Teachers College from Fort Valley State College in Georgia in 1950 with a B.A. in secondary education and social studies. He received a master's degree in education administration in 1951. Byas did not opt to use the funds available to him from the South, but attended Teachers College with funds from the GI Bill. Byas returned to Georgia where he taught for two years before becoming principal of Hutcheson High School in Douglasville County. In the fall of 1970, Byas became the first black person to serve as a county school superintendent in the formerly segregated South when he was made superintendent of schools in Tuskeegee.

Byas left the South in 1977 to become superintendent of schools in Roosevelt, New York. "The Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Roosevelt is now named after me," Byas said. He returned to his home town in Macon, Georgia after acting as interim superintendent for Hempstead, New York, schools in 1990 and 1991.

The alumni who attended the Georgia event traveled far from home to get their education and spent their summers studying and working to achieve their goals. After receiving their hard-earned degrees they devoted their careers to passing on their love of learning to young people in both the North and South.

Published Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2002

When the South Said, 'No,' Teachers College Said, 'Yes'


A Teachers College alumni event at the Governor's mansion in Georgia this past fall brought to light the large numbers of black alumni from the South who attended the College in the 1940s and ‘50s. There was a time when higher education opportunities were limited for blacks living in the South, and they looked to graduate schools in the North to provide those advantages.


One Couple's Experience


When Wiley Bolden left the army at the end of World War II, he planned to continue his education. He had already received a B.S. in chemistry from Alabama State Teachers College (now Alabama State University). As a man of color living in Alabama in the 1940s, Bolden's choices for graduate school were limited to schools in the North. "At that time, we were restricted in attending any of the graduate schools in the south except Atlanta University, which offered only a master's degree," Bolden explained. "No other school in the South at that time would admit black students seeking a degree beyond a bachelor's."

To satisfy the federal government, Southern states agreed to pay the difference between the cost of attending a southern university and the costs for black students to attend school outside the region. "They paid the difference in tuition, room and board, and train fare back and forth," said Bolden.

Bolden's wife, Willie, attended Teachers College in the summers under this program. She received her M.A. in teaching of social studies in 1948. Bolden joined her, and earned a master's degree in psychological services in 1947. "We had grown up under segregation, and it was a hostile environment in the South," Bolden said. "We knew things would be somewhat different in New York, and TC was particularly receptive. TC's willingness to serve and be helpful was evident. I enjoyed that atmosphere."

He continued his doctoral studies at TC during the summers while working at Clark College in Atlanta. In 1953, he received a one-year fellowship to complete his doctorate, which he did in 1954. He wrote his dissertation on comparing student-centered and teacher-centered education and received his Ed.D. in psychological services in 1957.


Coming Back for More After the End of Segregation

Oliver Greene also came to Teachers College as part of the same program, receiving an M.A. in secondary school administration in 1957. He returned in 1963 for a professional diploma in elementary school administration, which he received in 1967.

"My experience at TC was exceptional because it really provided crucial skills in school administration," Greene said. "I was greatly influenced by one of my professors at Morris Brown College who told me to go to one of the largest schools in the East." Greene taught high school history and attended TC in the summers, and as soon as he received his master's, he became an elementary school principal.

An Education Worth Paying For

Others came to Teachers College without the help of Southern financial aid. Rosa Beard, who attended the College in the summers and taught high school in Georgia during the school year, paid for school on her own. "I was not aware of the program for black students to study at graduate schools in the North until I almost graduated," Beard said. She worked in the TC cafeteria during the summers she attended. Beard received her M.A. in science education in 1951 and taught chemistry at Thomas Walter Josey Comprehensive High School in Augusta, Georgia, until 1983.

Putting Education to Work in the North and South

Ulysses Byas came to Teachers College from Fort Valley State College in Georgia in 1950 with a B.A. in secondary education and social studies. He received a master's degree in education administration in 1951. Byas did not opt to use the funds available to him from the South, but attended Teachers College with funds from the GI Bill. Byas returned to Georgia where he taught for two years before becoming principal of Hutcheson High School in Douglasville County. In the fall of 1970, Byas became the first black person to serve as a county school superintendent in the formerly segregated South when he was made superintendent of schools in Tuskeegee.

Byas left the South in 1977 to become superintendent of schools in Roosevelt, New York. "The Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School in Roosevelt is now named after me," Byas said. He returned to his home town in Macon, Georgia after acting as interim superintendent for Hempstead, New York, schools in 1990 and 1991.

The alumni who attended the Georgia event traveled far from home to get their education and spent their summers studying and working to achieve their goals. After receiving their hard-earned degrees they devoted their careers to passing on their love of learning to young people in both the North and South.

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