John McWhorter writes:
Traditionally, anti-intellectualism was distributed in black American culture precisely the way it was distributed in general American culture, imputed partly to class and partly to individuality. During and after the Civil War, blacks were starved for education, and the idea that loving to learn was "white" was unknown. As the chaplain of a black Civil War regiment recounted, "A majority of the men seem to regard their books as an indispensable portion of their equipments, and the cartridge box and spelling book are attached to the same belt." One Alabama observer recounted a rally to raise money for a schoolhouse: "One old man, who had seen slavery days, with all of his life's earnings in an old greasy sack, slowly drew it from his pocket, and emptied it on the table," saying "'I want to see the children of my grandchildren have a chance, and so I am giving my all.'"
After this, there was no achievement gap of note between blacks and whites. Unsurprisingly, blacks who went to under-funded backwater schools tended not to come out as learned citizens. But when conditions between blacks and whites were equal, there was no problem. Thomas Sowell has noted that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst admitted thirty-four blacks between 1892 and 1954, and seven (more than a quarter) were Phi Beta Kappas. Up through the 1950s and beyond, black public schools were often excellent, as fondly recalled today by older blacks perplexed at the "acting white" charge. The most famous example was Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., where, in 1899, students outscored all-white schools in standardized tests.
It was the demise of segregation, of all things, that helped pave the way for the "acting white" charge. With the closing of black schools after desegregation orders, black students began going to school with white students in larger numbers than ever before. White students were often openly hostile, and white teachers only somewhat less so. Black teachers and administrators from the old black schools often lost their jobs. Unsurprisingly, black students started modeling themselves against white ones as a form of self-protection. This dovetailed nicely with the new open-ended wariness of whites that was the bedrock of "Black Power" identity.
Later in the piece, he seconds a very controversial idea: all black schools. Read the rest here.