Each One Teach One

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This article is about the African-American proverb. For other uses, see Each One Teach One (disambiguation).

Each One Teach One is an African-American proverb. The original author is unknown.

This phrase was originated in the United States during slavery, when Africans were denied education, including learning to read. Many, if not most enslaved people were kept in a state of ignorance about anything beyond their immediate circumstances which were under control of owners, the law makers and the authorities. When an enslaved person learned or was taught to read, it became his duty to teach someone else, spawning the phrase "Each one teach one."

In the first half of the 20th century, the phrase was applied to the work of a Christian missionary, Dr. Frank Laubach, who utilized the concept to help address poverty and illiteracy in the Philippines. Many sources cite Dr. Laubach as creating the saying, but many others believe that he simply used it in order to advance the cause of ending illiteracy in the world.[1]

In the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire and the 2009 movie based on it, Precious, the expression is used as the name of an alternative school that the principal character is attending after being expelled from public school.


  1. ^ "Each One Teach One". Laubach Literacy Ontario. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 

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