Why was education important to former slaves?
Education was important to former slaves because it fostered their integration into mainstream society.
Remember that prior to the Civil War, there were laws on the books in many Southern states that prohibited masters from teaching their slaves how to read and write. Many masters, therefore shied away from educating their slaves.
Therefore, after the Civil War, there were millions of completely uneducated people entering mainstream society. While there were jobs that were available for these freed slaves which involved farming and agriculture, one way that they could improve their lives was through education. They could obtain a better occupation and achieve the American Dream from which they and their ancestors were barred from centuries.