Vernie Merze Tate was a prominent African American history teacher who wanted her students to see the world she taught about.
Tate was born to Charles & Myrtle K. (Lett) Tate on February 6, 1905, in Blanchard, Michigan. She grew up in the west part of Michigan. She was the only black student in her class and when she graduated she did so with honors from Western Michigan University. Tate went on to graduate from Oxford University in 1932.
After college, Tate traveled the world as a writer. She later became a teacher at the all-black Crispus Attucks High School in Indiana, which was founded by the Ku Klux Klan, in an effort to segregate races. While teaching at the school, Tate formed a travel club for her students.
Tate was able to take her students to Pennsylvania, Niagara Falls, and Washington D.C. Some people criticized her efforts for taking the students out into the world because many people felt that they were destined only to become domestics. However, most of Tate’s students proved them wrong and went to go to college and do well after graduating.