- Purchase/rental options available:
Abolitionists founded interracial schools and colleges with the aim of undoing popular associations of dark skin with deficiency. School leaders at integrated institutions like Oberlin College or New York Central College invoked the spectrum of complexions on campus to demonstrate the extent of their commitment to racial justice. The side effect of this strategy was the singling out of students with especially dark skin, who could fall special victim to the patronizing of faculty and/or the ridicule of peers. This article analyzes two black students’ confrontations with colorism at abolitionist colleges to reveal the ways complexion shaped the lives of people of color in the mid-nineteenth century. It shows how skin tone affected Sabram Cox and Mahommah Baquaqua's school careers and how they responded to color prejudice.