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Persecutors in Postsecondary Education

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From the perspective of a wealthy, white, American citizen, postsecondary education is typically the next step they are expected to take after high school, leading them to a sound and successful career. Emily Tate stated, about seventy-three percent of white Americans enroll in college on to Graduation Rates and Race (Tate). However, from the perspective of people of color this has not always been the same. There have been several initiatives put in place to make the college application process more equal for people of all colors, but persecution still takes place. Discrimination to the poor, women, and those who had not confessed to witchcraft in The Crucible was similar to the persecutions in postsecondary education. Educational persecution in regards to race has persisted throughout history much like the persecutions in The Crucible.

Vast divisions in many areas including education, career paths, criminal records, and wealth are commonly caused due to race. There is a disparity in how whites and blacks with similar financial standings are treated in regards to being persuaded to live in certain areas, finding appropriate housing, or getting mortgage loans. Race matters when whites with convictions for nonviolent drug offenses are called back for interviews more so than blacks with no criminal record. Race matters when blacks are searched, questioned, and stopped by the authorities more regularly than whites without justice other than racial stereotypes. Race matters when arbitrary difficulties are used to have white jurors over black jurors (Espenshade et al. 8). All of these factors show that in a number of situations race has to do with social standing. This includes postsecondary education. College enrollment is racially divided. White students are more likely to enroll in selective schools that have more advanced tools to support and teach their student population, while African-Americans tend to get accepted to smaller colleges with less opportunity for guidance. According to a 2013 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, seventy-five percent of white students attend the top three most selective colleges while only seven percent of black students do. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, nearly eighty percent of full-time faculty members at degree-granting colleges were white, and only six percent were black (Supiano) (‘Characteristics of Postsecondary’). Even the fact that there has only been one African-American president can represent the impact race has socially (Supiano). In The Crucible, people who were not wealthy, or did not attend church were thought of as unacceptable people and were convicted of worshipping the devil or witchcraft, more frequently than a wealthy, regular church-goer. The unfair treatment of the poor is similar to racial persecution; the poor people of Salem’s social status was greatly affected according by their wealth and religion much like in education and many other things today, race affects social status.

Discrimination has been prominent in postsecondary education for as long as race has had social meaning. Attending college is typically associated with white collar families. Forty-two percent of white students aged eighteen to twenty-four were enrolled in college in 2013, compared to 34 percent of black and Hispanic students that age, according to the U.S. Department of Education (Marcus). Although more blacks are enrolling in college now, there were many years where only whites were allowed to go to college. In 1823, Alexander Lucius Twilight was the first known African American to graduate from college in the United States (Titcomb). Attending college as an African-American did not become regular until affirmative action was put into place in 1961 (Stewart). The first college founded in the United States was Harvard, in 1636 (Anderberg). It took three-hundred and twenty-five years of postsecondary education for policies to be implemented so that blacks and other minorities might be able to even apply as an equal. Much like when Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, Mary Warren, Ruth Putnam, and others were caught dancing in the woods and were punished and treated differently in the Puritan society, people of color have been treated differently in regards to education opportunity throughout history.

Although persecution of people of color in regards to higher education has been a prominent issue for many years, there have been several educational milestones that specifically African Americans have made throughout history. From 1849 to 1855: the first African American taught at a mixed race institution of higher education in the United States, Harvard Medical School accepted its first three black students, and the first interracial and coeducational institution was established in the a South. Mary Jane Patterson becomes the first African American woman to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1862. In 1865, Patrick Francis Healy became the first African American to receive a doctorate, and in 1868 Howard University opened a medical department, becoming the first school to have a medical program for blacks. In 1906 and 1908 the first fraternity and sorority were established at Cornell University and Howard University. Jane Matilda was the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School in 1931, and later went on to become the nation’s first black female judge in 1939. Harry James Green Jr. becomes the first black to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1943, and Ralph J. Bunche was the first black to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the 1948 Arab-Israeli peace settlement in 1950. As recently as the 1950’s and 1960’s, their were still universities who had finally allowed admittance of their first African American students. The University of Tennessee admitted their first black student in 1952, The University of Florida was ordered to admit black students by the Supreme Court in 1954, and New Orleans’ Tulane University admitted its first black students in 1963. In 1975, Eileen J. Southern became the first black woman promoted as a full professor at Harvard University. Black College Day has its first annual celebration in Washington D.C. in 1980 and over eighteen thousand students attended to increase attention for black colleges and universities. The first black woman in a position at an ivy league college, Ruth J. Simmons, was elected as president of Brown University in 1995. In 1996, California’s Proposition 209 is passed by California voters, signifying the use of race is banned in admissions for state universities. Due to affirmative action, the number of black freshmen accepted at the University of California at Berkeley decreased fifty-seven percent in the first year. In 2007, Danielle Allen became the first African American to be appointed to the permanent faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Even as late as four years ago, Michael V. Drake was appointed the first African American president of Ohio State University (Titcomb) (‘Milestones in African’). The progression of African Americans in education has grown vastly since it began, much like Salem. Several blacks took a stand to become relevant in the postsecondary educational world, like the people who persevered by not confessing to speaking with the devil in The Crucible. There have been several educational milestones that African Americans have made throughout history.

Affirmative action was one of the fundamental components of the growth of persecution towards race in higher education. Instituted by the government, affirmative action laws are policies to help level the playing field for those historically disadvantaged due to elements such as race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. These laws make opportunities in business, employment, and education as equal for everyone as possible. Signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, affirmative action was first created by Executive Order 10925 in the United States (‘What Is Affirmative’) (‘Executive Order’) . This law requires that government employers must not “discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin.” Affirmative action practices also began to affect higher education with college applicants. Being a minority in this time can actually help you to get into colleges easier in the present time (‘What Is Affirmative’). The Puritan society progressed and matured similarly to how persecution with blacks in education grew because of affirmative action. Although there are still many racial setbacks in education today, affirmative action was one of the biggest milestones to getting this persecution where it is now.

Persecution in postsecondary education that has allowed advantages and disadvantages according to race has persisted throughout history much like the persecutions in The Crucible. Race has caused vast divisions in social status in many areas including education, career paths, criminal records, and wealth. Race can affect everyone in regards to social standing, whether it be in a job application or if someone will get questioned by the police because of their profile. Although race can negatively affect a person’s social status, it can also help people get into college or get a job due to affirmative action. However, many persecutions in postsecondary education have been due to race. Although persecution of people of color in regards to higher education has stood out as an issue for many years, there have been several educational milestones that specifically African Americans have made throughout history. Endorsed by John F. Kennedy, affirmative action was one of the fundamental factors to get race in higher education where it is today. The Salem witch trials in The Crucible were harsh, unfair times similar to educational barriers facing minorities today.

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