I learned about Amanda Smith by reading Marcia Chatelain’s excellent book, South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration. As Chatlelain writes,
The Amanda Smith Industrial School of Colored Girls...triggered heated debates about what blacks girls needed, due to their status as orphans, dependents, or delinquents; their institutional care; and the purpose of urban industrial education. Community leaders determined that if the school’s girls received loving care at the boarding schools, a solid domestic education, and avenues for employment after graduation, they would be poised to become race mothers, who would transform black families and futures. The school's strong sense of mission and benevolent leaders could not shield it from a range of problems, from financial insolvency to conflicts among its benefactors—African American clubwomen and white philanthropists. The two factions held different perspectives on racial integration of girls’ institutions, the fitness of African Americans to lead outreach initiatives, and the potential threat black girls posed to their white peers. Their racial and ideological divides fueled tensions surrounding the question of who knew what was best for African American girls. The battles were as much about the meaning of black girlhood as about the fates of dependent, delinquent, and destitute girls themselves.