Free blacks in New York City early evidenced a keen interest in the education of their children. Although the formal movement in this direction was begun under interested white auspices, the blacks themselves would in time play a key role in its support. The first organized attempt to found an institution dedicated specifically to the education of black youth was initiated by the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves, 1 which established the African Free School in 1787. 2