Horace Mann Bond

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BOND, HORACE MANN (19041972)

President of two historically black colleges from 1939 to 1957, and dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University from 1957 until shortly before his death in 1972, Horace Mann Bond was also a historian and social scientific observer of the condition of African Americans. He was born on November 8, 1904, in Nashville, Tennessee, the sixth of seven children of a Congregationalist minister and a teacher, both of whom had attended Oberlin College. Bond grew up as his father pastored various churches and took other ministerial positions in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia. He attended schools in Alabama and Georgia and graduated from the Lincoln (Kentucky) Institute, a high school for African Americans indirectly tied to Berea College. His collegiate career began at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, from where he graduated, and continued with postbaccalaureate study at the Pennsylvania State College (now University). He did his graduate work at the University of Chicago, from which he earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. in education, with an emphasis on the history and sociology of education. He finished his doctorate in 1936. Among his teachers were Newton Edwards in history of education, Frank S. Freeman in tests and measurements, and Robert Park in sociology. His family valued education enormously, encouraging all their children to achieve to their utmost. Horace's closest sibling, J. Max Bond, also earned his doctorate in education and had a rewarding academic career.


Bond worked at a variety of academic institutions before finishing his doctorate, including Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma; Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; and Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He also worked as a researcher for a time for the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a philanthropic organization with which he would maintain a close, working relationship for approximately two decades, lasting until its dissolution in 1948. He worked his way up in the hierarchy of black colleges, becoming a dean at Dillard in 1934, chairman of the education department at Fisk University later in that decade, and president of the Fort Valley State College in Georgia in 1939. In 1945 he was chosen as president of his alma mater, Lincoln University, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he served until 1957. While at Lincoln, he pointed the attention of the college and its students and faculty toward Africa and Africans, building relationships with famous African Lincoln alumni, such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria. He made several trips to Africa in these years and was an officer of the American Society for African Culture (AMSAC). After leaving Lincoln, he became dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University. He worked at Atlanta until his death in 1972.

Publications and Scholarly Pursuits

Bond's publications in the 1920s included two articles critical of the racial bias in the intelligence testing movement. He continued to publish numerous articles in the 1930s, a decade in which he also published a textbook for education courses in historically black colleges, The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (1934), and Negro Education in Alabama: A Study in Cotton and Steel (1939), which was based on his doctoral dissertation. While at the rural Fort Valley State College in the 1940s, Bond published Education for Production: A Textbook on How to Be Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise (1944). In the 1950s, after leaving Lincoln, he gave several lectures at Harvard University, which were subsequently published as The Search for Talent (1959). The theme of black academic excellence, which had animated Bond's own life and much of his early work, as well as his Harvard lectures, was explored again in Black American Scholars: A Study of Their Beginnings (1969). Finally, Bond's Education for Freedom: A History of Lincoln University, was published posthumously in 1976. His scholarship was mainly in the areas of educational tests and measurements, educational history, and educational sociology. Much of his early and middle career was devoted to teacher training, and issues involved in its pursuit in black colleges. His later years were devoted to the pursuit of positive relations between Africans and African Americans, as well as expansions of his earlier scholarly interests.

Bond was an accomplished student, and his early scholarly career was one of great promise. His detour into academic administration, encouraged by the Rosenwald interests, took him away from his scholarly pursuits until late in his life. By that time, his absence from the scholarly arena for several years hampered his efforts, though it did not stop his productivity. His accomplishments as a college president were considerable at Fort Valley, where he pioneered the collegiate development of one of the three black colleges in the Georgia State University System. His tenure at Lincoln, however, was marred by acrimonious relationships with some faculty and alumni, which eventually culminated in his dismissal as president, an outcome which he considered, with some bitterness, to be totally unjust. At Atlanta he was reasonably successful as a dean but exhibited little enthusiasm for the work. He was more interested in research on black educational history and black academic achievement and pursued these interests after being named head of the School of Education's Bureau of Educational Research.

Family Life

Bond married Julia Agnes Washington, a student he met while on the Fisk faculty in the 1920s, in 1929. Julia Washington was from an economically successful and prominent African-American family in Nashville, Tennessee, and she and Horace had three children: Jane Marguerite, born in 1939; Horace Julian, born in 1940; and James, born in 1945. He had high academic expectations for all of his children, expectations which were met initially only by his daughter. His son, Horace Julian, became a leader in the black college student wing of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, went on to become a state legislator in Georgia, and in his political activism achieved a fame that had eluded his father. In the early twenty-first century he serves as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and teaches history at the University of Virginia.

See also: Multicultural Education.


Bond, Horace Mann. 1934. The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order. New York: Prentice Hall.

Bond, Horace Mann. 1939. Negro Education in Alabama: A Study in Cotton and Steel. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Bond, Horace Mann. 1969. Black American Scholars: A Study of Their Beginnings. Detroit, MI: Balamp.

Bond, Horace Mann. 1976. Education for Freedom: A History of Lincoln University. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press for Lincoln University.

Urban, Wayne J. 1992. Black Scholar: Horace Mann Bond, 19041972. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Williams, Roger. 1971. The Bonds: An American Family. New York: Atheneum.

Wayne J. Urban

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Horace Mann Bond

Horace Mann Bond (1904-1972) was an important figure in African American education during the 1930s and 1940s working to end segregation while still improving the education of African American students.

An imposing figure in a family that produced several important scholars and civil rights leaders, Horace Mann Bond had a career that exemplifies the dilemma of the black educator in the segregated South during the 1930s and 1940s: despising segregation and silently struggling to abolish it, while still helping to improve education for African Americans within its confines. Sociologist, college president, and philanthropic agent, Horace Mann Bond resolved this dilemma with intelligence and diplomacy. His work, and that of other educators like him, set into motion the historic forces that found expression in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.


Grandson of slaves, Bond was the child of an extraordinary couple. His mother was a schoolteacher, his father a minister. Both excelled in the network of religious and educational institutions established in the South after the Civil War. Bond was an academic prodigy, graduating from high school at the age of fourteen. He attended Lincoln University, a black college in southeastern Pennsylvania. Lincoln placed a premium on W. E. B. Du Bois's notion that racial improvement in the United States would be accomplished by a "talented tenth" of African Americans. Bond quickly proved himself to be such a leader, graduating with honors in 1923. While taking graduate courses at Pennsylvania State College, Bond earned grades higher than those of his white classmates and returned to Lincoln in 1923 as an instructor. Bond then suffered the only setback to his success: he was dismissed from the college for tolerating a gambling ring in a dormitory he was supervising.


Despite his embarrassment at Lincoln, Bond had a reputation as a fine scholar, and he spent much of the next fifteen years alternating between various jobs as an administrator of African American schools and graduate work in sociology at the University of Chicago, from which he received his doctorate in 1936. Bond's administrative work at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, and at Alabama State Normal School in Montgomery taught him valuable lessons in the difficulties of education in the segregated South. To keep the white state legislature funding Langston, for example, Langston faculty had to "fool" visiting legislators into thinking the school taught only domestic sciences and "honest labor and toil," giving visiting legislators sumptuous meals of fried chicken and mounting theatrical displays of teachers picking peas. After the whites left, satisfied that the blacks of Oklahoma were receiving education sufficient for their "place," Langston got back to teaching. Throughout the 1930s Bond was engaged in a similarly difficult and often frustrating relationship with the Rosenwald Fund, a white philanthropy that donated large sums toward black education. The Rosenwald funding was instrumental in Bond's pursuit of his doctorate, as well as in securing Bond's major academic appointments to Fisk University in 1928 and to Dillard University in New Orleans in 1935. Nonetheless, the Rosenwald Fund, enamored of Booker T. Washington's notion that African American improvement was best pursued through industrial and agricultural labor, was often conservative and rarely challenged the segregated status quo in the South. That perspective privately annoyed Bond; during the Depression, however, no responsible educator could antagonize a steady source of funding. Believing in black academic excellence, Bond confronted white resistance to equality as a scholar, attacking one of the cornerstones of segregation: the belief that intelligence testing had "proved" the intellectual inferiority of African Americans.

Intelligence Testing

The U.S. Army had begun intelligence testing during World War I. In the 1920s various academics, such as Carl Brigham of Princeton, used the army data and other studies to argue that intelligence testing demonstrated the innate racial inferiority of African Americans. At Chicago, however, Bond had studied sociology in a department that had pioneered research in the impact of environment and society on individual personality. He had also supervised the creation of a statistical survey on the socioeconomic and educational condition of African Americans for the Tennessee Valley Authority. In a series of important articles, in a book titled The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (1934), and in his dissertation, published as Negro Education in Alabama: A Study in Cotton and Steel (1939), Bond assailed intelligence testing for its cultural bias and ignorance of environmental factors in education. White academics argued that "bright" blacks moved North; Bond conducted empirical studies at Lincoln demonstrating no significant difference in innate intelligence between northern and southern African Americans. Many asserted that the decline of black schools was owing to African American indifference; Bond demonstrated that it resulted from poor financing by white-dominated school boards. Bond showed that exceptional black students were usually the products of exceptionally well-financed and well-administered black schools, rather than any genetic characteristic. Bond tied the poor educational performance of African Americans to their political disenfranchisement and economic exploitation. He revealed that in many counties where the majority or near majority of the population was African American, white school boards kept taxes low and financed good schools for white children by directing the bulk of black tax payments to white schools—even as black schools remained substandard. Black taxpayers, in other words, were financing education for their white neighbors. "The School," he wrote in his 1934 book, "has been the product and interpreter of the existing [economic] system, sustaining and being sustained by the social complex." With Du Bois he also inaugurated a revisionist history of southern Reconstruction, which—in contrast to the dominant "Dunning" school of southern history in his time—did not applaud the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in "redeeming" the South after the Civil War.


Bond's scholarly work, although fairly radical for the time, was tempered by articles and speeches in which he lauded the work of "Southern white gentlemen" and racial moderates. He also did not recommend the abolition of the segregated school system but instead advocated financing it on a truly equal basis. Such gestures were necessary for the continued functioning of any southern educator committed to improving black education in the Jim Crow South. After 1939 Bond was foremost among such educators. That year he accepted the presidency of Fort Valley State College in Fort Valley, Georgia, a position he held until 1945, when he assumed the presidency of his alma mater, Lincoln. The first black president in the history of Lincoln, Bond held the office until 1957. He used his position to pursue several concerns: pan-Africanism and the development of African studies in American universities (following a trip to Africa in 1949), desegregation in Pennsylvania schools, assistance to the NAACP legal team that argued the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) suit before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the physical expansion of Lincoln and the improvement of its courses. He increased the number of black faculty members at Lincoln and brought to campus its first Jewish professor. He aroused opposition to his presidency by his activism and in 1957 resigned his office owing to the increased combativeness of the board of trustees. He then became dean of the School of Education at Atlanta University, remaining there until his retirement in 1971. During that time he renewed his criticisms of intelligence testing and standardized achievement tests following a flurry of new activity in those fields in the early 1960s, but increasingly his energy was focused on helping the civil rights activities and political career of his son, Julian Bond. Horace Mann Bond died in December 1972.

Further Reading

Wayne J. Urban, Black Scholar: Horace Mann Bond, 1904-1972 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992).

Roger M. Williams, The Bonds: An American Family (New York: Atheneum, 1972). □