On Nov. 5, 1867, delegates gathered in Montgomery, Alabama, to draft a new state constitution, as required by the Reconstruction Acts.
Prior to the Reconstruction Era, no Southern state had a state-financed public education system, even for whites.
Alabama’s new constitution established a centralized Board of Education and mandated that schools receive 20 percent of state revenue.
By 1871, nearly 55,000 African American and 87,000 white children were attending public schools.
One of the delegates to the convention was James Rapier who promoted an alliance between freedmen and poor whites.
The advances from the constitution ended (in Alabama and elsewhere) with the brutal attacks on Reconstruction and the rewrite of the state contitution in 1875.
Learn about this story and more from Dr. Hilary N. Green’s book Educational Reconstruction: African American Schools in the Urban South, 1865-1890 and from “Congressional Reconstruction in Alabama” at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.