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William S. Scarborough was born a slave in Georgia, but went on to become one of the nation’s leading scholars in Greek and Latin literature.
In fact, many consider Scarborough to be the first African-American classical scholar. Born in February 16, 1852, in Macon, Georgia, Scarborough’s father was a freed slave but his mother was still enslaved, thus he inherited her status. Although educating slaves was against the law, Scarborough was secretly taught how to read and write in the classical languages.
He later went on to serve as an apprentice shoemaker, and then worked as a secretary at a well-known Black association because of his studies. Scarborough attended college at Atlanta University before heading to Oberlin where he graduated with honors in 1875.
The following year, he returned to Macon to teach the classical languages at his former high school. Despite his gifts, many were…
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