For Black History Month 2019, MetroMorphosis will do weekly tributes to African American figures and/or movements that align with the core principles of our organization and its programming. Focusing on the pillars of social advocacy (Urban Congress on African American Males in Baton Rouge), education (Our Schools Our Excellence), economic empowerment (Launch BR) and urban transformation (MetroMorphosis in general), these posts will highlight past and present Black contributors to culture.
Today’s focus is education and the spotlighted figure is Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913), the first African American woman to become a school principal. Born as a slave, Coppin went on to eventually serve for 37 years as the principal of Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University of Pennsylvania). During her tenure Coppin was responsible for vast educational improvements in Philadelphia. She was eventually promoted by the board of education to superintendent and served as the first African American superintendent of a school district in the United States, before going back to the being a school principal.
Fanny Jackson Coppin
In her book, Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching, Fanny Jackson Coppin wrote that “there is too much repression and suppression in schools”. She knew early on that in order for students, Black students in particular, to be able to thrive that systemic inequities had to be addressed. MetroMorphosis’ initiative, Our Schools Our Excellence, is driven by the philosophy of creating an informed community demand for excellent educational and life outcomes for children in North Baton Rouge, and for this to happen, the focus on long-term change must happen from within our communities and school systems.
Our work is made tangible on account of heroes such as Fanny Jackson Coppin. Her work exemplified #BlackInProgress
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