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Press, Platform, Pulpit

Black Feminist Publics in the Era of Reform

Teresa Zackodnik

Publication Year: 2011

     Press, Platform, Pulpit examines how early black feminism goes public by sheding new light on some of the major figures of early black feminism as well as bringing forward some lesser-known individuals who helped shape various  reform movements. With a perspective unlike many other studies of black feminism, Teresa Zackodnik considers these activists as central, rather than marginal, to the politics of their day, and argues that black feminism reached critical mass well before the club movement’s national federation at the turn into the twentieth century . Throughout, she shifts the way in which  major figures of early black feminism have been understood.   

       The first three chapters trace the varied speaking styles and appeals of black women in the church, abolition, and women’s rights, highlighting audience and location as mediating factors in the public address and politics of figures such as Jarena Lee, Zilpha Elaw, Amanda Berry Smith, Ellen Craft, Sarah Parker Remond and Sojourner Truth. The next chapter focuses on Ida B. Wells’s anti-lynching tours as working within “New Abolition” and influenced by black feminists before her. The final chapter examines feminist black nationalism as it developed in the periodical press by considering Maria Stewart’s social and feminist gospel; Mary Shadd Cary’s linking of abolition, emigration, and woman suffrage; and late-nineteenth-century black feminist journalism addressing black women’s migration and labor.  Early black feminists working in reforms such as abolition and women’s rights opened new public arenas, such as the press, to the voices of black women. The book concludes by focusing on the 1891 National Council of Women, Frances Harper, and Anna Julia Cooper, which together mark a generational shift in black feminism, and by exploring the possibilities of taking black feminism public through forging coalitions among women of color.
    Press, Platform, Pulpit goes far in deepening our understanding of early black feminism, its position in reform, and the varied publics it created for its politics. It not only moves historically from black feminist work in the church early in the nineteenth century to black feminism in the press at its close, but also explores the connections between black feminist politics across the century and specific reforms.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Title PAge, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

My seven-year-old daughter recently declared, though I need no reminding, that “an important history” is represented in this book. She’s right, of course. And I’m mindful that it marks, inevitably, only a partial sense of the astonishing work these women undertook, just as I’m mindful that there were so many more women laboring for black feminist causes ...

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Introduction: Going Public: African American Feminismin the Era of Reform

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pp. xiii-xxxvi

On October 1, 1858, William Hayward wrote William Lloyd Garrison at The Liberator from Silver Lake, Indiana, to tell of Sojourner Truth’s handling of a rather outrageous challenge at one of her antislavery meetings in the north of that state. An activist for abolition, woman’s rights, universal suffrage, and the rights of freed and working-class African Americans, ...

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Chapter 1: Soul Winners and Sanctified Sisters: Nineteenth-Century African American Preaching Women

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pp. 1-48

Despite institutional sanctions against their licensing or ordination, African American women were active in the nineteenth century as preachers, exhorters, evangelists, and missionaries. From Rebecca Cox Jackson’s Shaker mission among African Americans in Philadelphia to the itinerant preaching of women such as Jarena Lee and Sojourner Truth ...

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Chapter 2: Internationalizing Black Feminisms: Ellen Craft, Sarah Parker Remond, and American Slavery in the British Isles and Ireland

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pp. 49-92

The work African American preaching women undertook to politicize soul winning, particularly their attention to the elision of material realities in the abstraction of the spirit or soul, is linked to the abolitionist work of black women at midcentury. Black female abolitionists, whether working in the United States or within the transatlantic network, ...

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Chapter 3: “I don’t know how you will feel when I get through”: Racial Difference, Symbolic Value, and Sojourner Truth

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pp. 93-130

At the 1867 convention of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), Sojourner Truth readied her audience to hear her speak on a subject she believed they had begun to ignore—the rights and material conditions of formerly enslaved African Americans, including “the colored woman.” ...

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Chapter 4: The Platform, the Pamphlet, and the Press: Ida B. Wells’s Pedagogy of American Lynching

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pp. 131-166

From a consideration of black feminist labors within woman’s rights reform circles through a particular focus on Sojourner Truth, I wish now to turn again to black feminism as it takes the international stage and thereby keep firmly in sight the way in which early black feminism reached beyond “local” concerns, rhetorics, and politics. ...

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Chapter 5: “We must be up and doing” : Feminist Black Nationalism in the Press

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pp. 167-224

“Even though we wish to shun them, and hold ourselves entirely aloof from them, we cannot escape the consequences of their acts. So, that, . . policy and self-preservation would demand that we do go among the lowly, the illiterate, and even the vicious to whom we are bound by the ties of race and sex, ...

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Conclusion: Feminist Affiliations in a Divisive Climate: Anna Julia Cooper’s “Woman versus the Indian”

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pp. 225-248

“It is not the intelligent woman vs. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman vs. the black, the brown, and the red,—it is not even the cause of woman vs. man. Nay, ’tis woman’s strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. . . . Hers is every interest that has lacked an interpreter and a defender. ...


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pp. 249-294

Works Cited

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pp. 295-318


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pp. 319-340

E-ISBN-13: 9781572338401
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572338265

Publication Year: 2011