First Class by Alison Stewart
The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School

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A well-reported, passionate study of the triggers for failure and success within American urban education.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Combining a fascinating history of the first U.S. high school for African Americans with an unflinching analysis of urban public-school education today, First Class explores an underrepresented and largely unknown aspect of black history while opening a discussion on what it takes to make a public school successful. In 1870, in the wake of the Civil War, citizens of Washington, DC, opened the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, the first black public high school in the United States; it would later be renamed Dunbar High and would flourish despite Jim Crow laws and segregation. Dunbar attracted an extraordinary faculty: its early principal was the first black graduate of Harvard, and at a time it had seven teachers with PhDs, a medical doctor, and a lawyer. During the school’s first 80 years, these teachers would develop generations of highly educated, successful African Americans, and at its height in the 1940s and ’50s, Dunbar High School sent 80 percent of its students to college. Today, as in too many failing urban public schools, the majority of Dunbar students are barely proficient in reading and math. Journalist and author Alison Stewart—whose parents were both Dunbar graduates—tells the story of the school’s rise, fall, and possible resurgence as it looks to reopen its new, state-of-the-art campus in the fall of 2013.
 

About Alison Stewart

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Alison Stewart is an award-winning journalist whose twenty-year career includes anchoring and reporting for NPR, NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News. She got her start covering politics for MTV News. Stewart is a graduate of Brown University. Melissa Harris-Perry is a professor of political science at Tulane University and host of The Melissa Harris Perry Show.
 
Published August 1, 2013 by Chicago Review Press. 356 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for First Class
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on May 13 2013

Worthy as this remarkable history is, it ambles from the chatty to the clunky, from the storyteller’s impulse to the political edge.

Read Full Review of First Class: The Legacy of Du... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 23 2013

A well-reported, passionate study of the triggers for failure and success within American urban education.

Read Full Review of First Class: The Legacy of Du... | See more reviews from Kirkus

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