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Without education, it's very difficult to make the most of your talents and abilities. But for much of American history, black people couldn't get an education. In many places it was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write. Despite this, many brave slaves found a way to learn. Some taught themselves. Others sneaked to schools held late at night. Even after slavery was ended in 1865, African Americans continued to be treated unfairly. It was still a struggle for them to get an education. African-American educators stepped up to make a difference. They faced hardship. They often worked for very little pay—or for no pay at all. These educators built schools. They taught their students and stood up for equal rights. They proved that a person's race has nothing to do with his or her ability.