Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Goudsouzian Aram

Committee Member

Smallwood Arwin

Committee Member

Bond Beverly

Committee Member

Gasman Mary Beth


This dissertation offers a comprehensive and comparative analysis of foreign students at Tuskegee Institute between 1892 and 1935. During this time, aspiring young people from the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia coalesced on the rural Alabama campus, creating a unique cultural space. It became a space not only for intellectual exchange, but also for cultural pride, political solidarity, and global exchange. Although much has been written about the school's founder, Booker T. Washington, very little has been written about the role his school played in forging and sustaining a global community. This dissertation charts the cultural, historical, and contextual significance of Tuskegee's foreign students as they traveled overseas to the tumultous Jim Crow South. The rise of political intimidation and physical violence against African Americans during the early part of the twentieth century coincided with the emergence of European colonialism and American imperialism abroad. As people of African descent disproportionately found themselves under oppressive social, economic, and political conditions, Tuskegee Institute emerged as a cultural and intellectual safe haven for both American born and foreign students. Foreign scholars and activists such as Jose Marti, Juan Gomex, J. A. Aggrey, Pambini Mzimba, and Marcus Garvey used Tuskegee as a symbol of Black Nationalism, political solidarity, borrowing their methods to uplift darker peoples of the world. The cultural and intellectual exchange that took place at Tuskegee set in motion a long history of African American, African, and Asian, interaction. This study traces the evolution of Washington and Tuskegee as they used education to combat racial, political, and economic disenfranchisement forging a global community in the process. A critical survey of the diverse experiences of students from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Anglophone Caribbean, Liberia, South Africa, Japan, China, and India as the appeared on the campus of Tuskegee, Alabama sheds light into the process of globalization. This study examines how foreign students resisted cultural assimilation, struggled with migration, experienced American racism, and embraced national sensibilities, all while receiving an education. Furthermore, examining the experience of foreign students at Tuskegee reveals another important contribution of America's Black colleges and universities. At such institutions, the Atlantic world (and Asia) interacted with, and influenced the South, America, and the larger world. Examining the experiences of foreign students at Tuskegee complicates understandings of race as a social construction, political leadership, movement of African dispersed people to the American South, and Black education at the turn of the twentieth century. This dissertation reconsiders Booker T. Washington and his institution as pioneers in global education. Washington's emphasis on self-help, economic determination, political solidarity, and race pride provided the framework for more radical forms of pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism, which emerged shortly after his death in 1915.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.