Poor people saw schools as a route to autonomy, and ignorance as the most crippling brand of slavery. “Representative colored men” looked to education as a civilizing tool and thus valued it all the more. But if illiteracy had been the badge of slavery, it still invited economic victimization. The land-tenure and crop-lien systems typical of Southern agriculture were the most salient causes of Black poverty, but illiteracy implied a further vulnerability. Both aggravated the abuses pertaining to an economy run entirely on credit.
- P.53, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3