For years pundits have debated the manipulation of the "Negro problem" in post- civil war America. The period of reconstruction marked the struggle between accomodationist Weltanschauung and intellectual empowerment in the Black community. William Watkins of the University of Illinois, Chicago has illuminated the alliance formed among northern philanthropists and southern racists to propagate the sub-standard education of Blacks. Drawing upon examples of some of the most well known white philanthropists, such as the Rockefeller Family, Thomas Jesse Jones, and William Ogden Watkins weaves a telling tale of seemingly well-meaning charity with a very real and insidious agenda. With striking documentation and thoughtful insight Watkins sheds the veil of altruism and reveals an ill-begotten truce between North, South, and accomodationist Blacks. The culmination of this bargain was the educational marginalization of an entire race drafted to support the burgeoning economic machine in the North and suppress the over-zealous discrimination characteristic of the South. The ideology exposed by Watkins in The White Architects of Black Education defines the scope and sequence of a carefully planned and well-executed contextualization of an entire culture.
The effects of the architecture are still evident in the modern classroom and in society at-large. By providing a minimal education dominant American culture has created an intellectual and societal caste system, which exists today inside and outside of schools. Contrary to the important work of W.E.B. DuBois, who posited the value of education for intellectual empowerment, the White architects designed their philanthropy for the good of everyone involved except the recipients. Subsequently, the entire history of Black education must be re-evaluated and we (education/society) must reconsider our own practices and prejudices. William Watkins's text gives us the resources to chart the appropriate pedagogical and social modifications on the path towards reconciliation.