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William James Edwards, b. 1869
Twenty-Five Years in the Black Belt
Boston: The Cornhill Company, c1918.


William James Edwards was born in Snow Hill, Alabama in 1869. His mother died less than a year later, and after staying with his father for a short while, he went to live with his aunt. Edwards worked and saved enough money to pay for his schooling at Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute, where he enrolled in 1889. After graduating, he returned to Snow Hill and opened an industrial school to serve the African Americans living in four surrounding counties. Through Edward's campaign for funds in the North and his work with Washington, the Snow Hill Institute became an important educational facility for African Americans in northern Alabama.

Twenty-Five Years in the Black Belt (1918) documents Edwards's life and career. He describes his childhood battles with poverty and illness and recounts his intellectual and spiritual development while at the Tuskegee Institute. He also discusses his founding of the Snow Hill Institute in 1893, and its growth over two decades. Edwards places his work in the context of the social and economic problems in the South, and the challenges African Americans faced in the early twentieth century.

Harris Henderson

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