This chapter examines the history of Negro achievement in education in Illinois. In January 1825 the Illinois Legislature enacted a law calling for the establishment of common schools in each county of the state. These schools were to be open and free to every class of white citizens between the ages of five and twenty-one years, but it was not until the year 1841 that Negroes were given consideration. In the city of Chicago no discrimination was shown against Negro children in the public schools until 1863, when the council passed an order establishing a separate school for colored children. The first school for Negro children was opened by Miss Rebecca Elliott, who came to Peoria from Cincinnati in 1860. In Cairo, the first public school for Negroes was started in 1853. Also during this period, several churches in Alexander County conducted daily classes that taught readin', writin' and 'rithmetic. This chapter discusses various initiatives to increase Negro access to education in Illinois.
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