Etched into America's consciousness is the United Negro College Fund's phrase "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This book tells the multifaceted story of the organization's efforts on behalf of black colleges against the backdrop of the cold war and the civil rights movement.
Founded during the post–World War II period as a successor to white philanthropic efforts, the UNCF nevertheless retained vestiges of outside control. In its early years, the organization was restrained in its critique of segregation and reluctant to lodge a challenge against institutional and cultural racism. Through cogent analysis of written and oral histories, archival documents, and the group's outreach and advertising campaigns, historian Marybeth Gasman examines the UNCF’s struggle to create an identity apart from white benefactors and to evolve into a vehicle for black empowerment.
The first history of the UNCF, Envisioning Black Colleges draws attention to the significance of black colleges in higher education and the role they played in Americans’ struggle for equality.