Charlotte Hawkins Brown was educated in Massachusetts before returning to the South to teach African-American children. In 1902, she opened the Palmer Memorial Institute, named after a benefactor; it went on to become a famed 200-acre prep school offering black students rich course offerings.
In 1902, Brown established the Palmer Memorial Institute, a preparatory school for African Americans, in Sedalia, North Carolina—naming it after her influential advisor. Over time, the school earned a reputation for excellence. Through her work for the school and in the field of education, she met influential people, such as fellow educator Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Booker T. Washington.
In the 1920s, Brown spoke out against the Jim Crow laws, a series of laws and practices, primarily in the South, that treated African Americans as second-class citizens and denied them many of their rights. Around this time, the school expanded its offerings to include a junior-college program.
During the 1940s, Brown was increasingly in demand as a lecturer and speaker. She gave talks to college students, churchgoers and others on numerous topics, including education, race and even social graces. She was also a writer. In 1919, she published a short story entitled "Mammy: An Appeal to the Heart of the South." Later she wrote a book on polite behavior, The Correct Thing to Do, to Say and to Wear (1941).
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