Beacon Light: Immaculate Conception School's Encouragement of Charleston's Black Middle and Upper Classes
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This is a study of Immaculate Conception School, (ICS) a private African American Catholic institution in Charleston, South Carolina founded in 1908, with particular emphasis on the years of 1930-1940. Its purpose is to show how black Catholic education in the city was intertwined with issues of class and status in the black community, while illustrating the efforts of African Americans to improve educational opportunities. African American parents utilized Immaculate Conception's challenging and competitive curriculum to prepare students for post-secondary institutions and ensure that they received the skills to remain in or enter the black middle and upper classes. As a result of the encouragement of their parents, members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, and community leaders, a large number of ICS students completed college and entered professional occupations. In order to determine the background of the students and their mindsets, I have examined a variety of diverse sources, including the US Manuscript Census of Population from the years of 1920 and 1930, the Beacon Light which served as the school's newspaper and yearbook, and other materials. I also conducted interviews with several alumni and faculty of ICS. This study illustrates how Immaculate Conception School allowed African American youth to escape Charleston's social and economic structures that suppressed the development of blacks.