By Tim Bazzett
An important blending of Black history and higher education, ably researched and written by David Pilgrim, who also put together the nationally famous Jim Crow Museum, housed on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. HASTE TO RISE explores the mutually beneficial relationship between Hampton Institute, a black vocational training school in Virginia, and the Ferris Institute of a hundred years ago when dozens of Hampton students journeyed there for college prep training before moving on to other universities. The arrangement produced many distinguished black educators, coaches, lawyers, doctors, dentists, journalists and more. Both schools are universities now, but Ferris was still Ferris Institute when I finished high school in 1962. Three years later, when I enrolled there, fresh out of the Army, it was Ferris State College. By that time, black students were commonplace on campus, so I found HASTE TO RISE, with its stories of those early black students quite interesting. But the book also serves as a primer on the origins of the University and its founder, Woodbridge Nathan Ferris (also a two-term governor of Michigan) who was very forward-looking in believing education should be open to all, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or gender.
The book boasts a wealth of black and white photographs, as well as an informative Foreword by the current President of FSU, David Eisler, and an Epilogue from researcher and co-author, Franklin Hughes. While the content is at times rather dry, and occasionally strays from its stated premise, I will not hesitate to recommend the book to students of history who are interested in the Jim Crow era which, judging from recent events, may, sadly, still be very much alive.
– Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
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