Race, Post-Reconstruction Politics, and the Birth of Federal Support for Black Colleges

Thumbnail Image




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


In 1890, Congress passed the Second Morrill Land-Grant Act, which provided federal resources to support the creation of nineteen Black land-grant colleges. At a historical and political moment when Black Americans faced a violently repressive backlash against what progress they had achieved during Reconstruction, the successful passage and implementation of this legislation was unlikely. How did congressional lawmakers successfully pass the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1890, and was the expansion of educational opportunity for African Americans a clearly expressed objective? Using historical analysis of primary sources, this analysis suggests that the 1890 legislation's investment in Black colleges reflected a politically expedient compromise between northern Radical Republicans who supported greater educational access for Black citizens and Southern Democrats who wished to expand higher educational opportunity in their region while also maintaining the segregated racial order of southern educational institutions.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Rose, D (2022). Race, Post-Reconstruction Politics, and the Birth of Federal Support for Black Colleges. Journal of Policy History, 34(1). pp. 25–59. 10.1017/S0898030621000270 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24774.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Deondra Rose

Kevin D. Gorter Associate Professor of Public Policy

Deondra Rose is the Kevin D. Gorter Associate Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy with secondary appointments in the Department of Political Science and the Department of History.  She is also the Director of Polis: Center for Politics and Co-director of the North Carolina Scholars Strategy Network (SSN).  Her research focuses on U.S. higher education policy, political behavior, American political development, and the politics of inequality, particularly in relation to gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

Rose is the author of Citizens by Degree: Higher Education Policy and the Changing Gender Dynamics of American Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2018), which examines the development of landmark U.S. higher education policies--including the National Defense Education Act of 1958, the Higher Education Act of 1965, and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments--and their impact on the progress that women have made since the mid-twentieth century. 

Her new book, The Power of Black Excellence: HBCUs and the Fight for American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2024), examines the crucial role that historically Black colleges have played in American political development.

summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Georgia, Rose received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, with a specialization in American politics and public policy.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.