Eric Anderson and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., offer a new examination of the impact of northern philanthropy on southern black education, giving special attention to the "Ogden movement," the General Education Board, the Rosenwald Fund, and the Episcopal American Church Institute for Negroes. Anderson and Moss present significant reinterpretations of key figures in African American education, including Booker T. Washington, William H. Baldwin, Jr., George Foster Peabody, and Thomas Jesse Jones.
Dangerous Donations explores both the great influence of the philanthropic foundations and the important limitations on their power. White racial radicals were suspicious that the northern agencies sought to undermine the southern system of race relations, "training negroes in the vain hope of social equality with whites." This criticism forced the philanthropists and their agents to move cautiously, seeking white southern cooperation whenever possible. Despite repeated compromises, northern philanthropists maintained a vision of race relations and black potential significantly different from that held by the South’s white majority.
Blacks challenged the foundations, expressing their own educational agendas in a variety of ways, including demands for black teachers, resistance to any distinctive racial curricula, and, in some cases, support for independent black schools. The millions of dollars in self-help philanthropy contributed by African Americans also indicated their refusal to give complete control of their schools to either the white South or distant philanthropists in the North.
No other scholars, according to Louis R. Harlan, "have examined the controversial role of philanthropy with the same coolness, analytical skill, and persistent search for the truth as Eric Anderson and Alfred Moss... [they] have made an outstanding contribution to the history of education for both races in the segregated South of 1900 to 1930."