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In 1849, Horace Webster, the first president of the Free Academy said of the radical social experiment that would eventually become the City University of New York (CUNY): “The experiment is to be tried, whether the children of the people, the children of the whole people, can be educated, and whether an institution of the highest grade, can be controlled by the popular will, not by the privileged few, but by the privileged many.” More than 170 years after the founding of the Free Academy, we revisit Horace Webster’s statement to question the outcome of the experiment from the perspective of the students.

The Children of the People (eBook)

SKU: 978-1-64504-240-2
  • Rose M. Kim is an associate professor of sociology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY. She is coeditor of Struggle for Ethnic Identity: narratives by Asian American professionals (1999); and Women on the Role of Public Higher Education: personal reflections from CUNY’s Graduate Center (2015).


    Grace M. Cho is a professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. She is author of the books Tastes Like War (2021) and Haunting the Korean Diaspora: shame, secrecy and the forgotten war (2008).


    Robin McGinty received her PhD in Geography from the Earth and Environmental Sciences program at The Graduate Center. Anchored in the political subjectivity of formerly incarcerated Black women, her dissertation “A Labor of Livingness: Oral Histories of Formerly Incarcerated Black Women is situated at the intersections of Black feminist thought and carceral geographies that re/imagine the ‘living prison’ experiences of formerly incarcerated Black women. Robin McGinty is a 2022 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Leading Edge Fellow.

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