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Active BodiesA History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America$
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Martha H. Verbrugge

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195168792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195168792.001.0001

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Separate and Unequal

Separate and Unequal

The Public Schools of Washington, D.C., 1890s–1950s

(p.153) 6 Separate and Unequal
Active Bodies

Martha H. Verbrugge

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 examines physical education and sports for boys and girls in the white and black divisions of the segregated public schools in Washington, D.C., from the introduction of formal training in 1889 to racial integration in the mid-1950s. The chapter demonstrates how white leaders systematically used concepts of “difference” to disadvantage certain pupils and teachers along lines of gender and race. Two examples are developed: the privileging of athletic boys through sports, and the subordination of black pupils and staff through segregation. The chapter also discusses the conflicts and resistance that such disparities engendered; it examines how physical educators protected instructional activities in the shadow of athletics, and how the innovative curricula of black gym teachers (including Edwin B. Henderson and Anita J. Turner) challenged racial myths and discrimination. Overall, the chapter illustrates the seemingly paradoxical capacity of “difference” to both disable and empower marginalized groups.

Keywords:   Washington, D.C, public schools, segregation, Edwin B. Henderson, Anita J. Turner

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