Boycotts, Buses, and Passes
Black Women's Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
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Table of Contents
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Acknowledgments [Includes maps]
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I always loved sitting at their dining room table just listening to their loud and funny stories about when they were “young gals” growing up in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s and ’40s. my great-aunts mary B. smith and arnette B. Jones were special women, partly because of the unguarded versions of family history they shared with us, but also because their generosity and resilience directly benefited our transplanted family. Big mary and...
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In the heart of montgomery, alabama, mrs. Idessa redden, a slender eighty-four-year-old, sat comfortably in her well- appointed living room. a lifelong activist in the Black freedom struggle, Mrs. Redden recounted stories of how she joined the National association for the advancement of Colored People (NaaCP) in her mid- twenties, made repeated attempts to register to vote during the 1940s, and finally succeeded in registering...
Chapter one: In the Beginning: Early Resistance among Enslaved and Free Women, 1721–1870
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One Easter season, well before the 1955–1956 Montgomery bus boycott had become a daily reality in the lives of the Black residents of Montgomery, Ms. Ora Lee Bell, a domestic worker in the affluent Cloverdale section of the city, took all five of her young children downtown to purchase their new Easter outfits...
Chapter Two: No Wash or Pass: Institution Building, Migration, and Protest, 1867–1918
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Mrs. Thelma Glass, a tall and striking woman in her mid- eighties, retired many years ago from her position as a professor of political and cultural geography at the historically Black Alabama State University in Montgomery. “I think world events made [teaching] so interesting,” she observed. “Things that were going on all over the world . . . and why people from certain areas...
Chapter Three: When We Were Just Girls:Rural Life Challenges in Black Belt Alabama and Pre- apartheid South Africa, 1920s –1940s [Includes Image Plates]
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Eighty- three-year-old Amy Collins Harris remembered spending her childhood and adolescence in the Black Belt Alabama village of Free Town, which was officially known as Allenville at the time. She recalled a place where her large family, which included numerous extended members, fashioned a comfortable self-sufficiency undergirded by a cooperative spirit of interdependence. Founded in Hale County in the 1860s...
Chapter Four: “Looking for better”: Montgomery, Johannesburg, and the Urban Context, 1920s –1940s
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In 1924, when Rosa McCauley left rural Pine Level without her mother for the first time, it was to continue her education in Montgomery. She would attend the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school for Black girls — known informally as Miss White’s — that was run and staffed by white women from the North...
Chapter Five: “My politics were influenced from the trade union”: Raising Political Consciousness, 1930s –1940s
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In 1928 the New York–based Reliance Manufacturing Company opened a plant in the capital city of Montgomery, in the middle of the Alabama cotton belt, where there was easy transportation and a healthy supply of cheap Black labor. The factory, which produced men’s shirts and (later) blue jeans and navy uniforms, employed some 254 workers at its peak, most of them Black women...
Chapter Six: Launching New Networks: Black Women Organizing for Change, 1940 –1950
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Mrs. Cora McHaney and Mrs. Irene Williams, now retired, are counted among the dedicated Black women teachers of Montgomery, Alabama. Mrs. McHaney — prim in appearance, sporting earrings, a pin at the V-neck of her dress, and a white knit headband that frames her smooth brown face — is originally from Florida. Mrs. Williams — tall and elegant, with a...
Chapter Seven: “Put my foot in the road and walked!”: Black Women Lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1950 –1961
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At age eighty- two, Mrs. Amelia Scott Green remembered growing up in and spending much of her life within the center city Black community of segregated Montgomery, Alabama. She began school later than many of the children at the Booker T. Washington Elementary School, and in the fourth grade — like many members of her generation — she was forced to...
Chapter Eight: “We will not ride!” - “We don’t want passes!”: South African Women Rising in Political Movement,1950 –1960
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Across the Atlantic, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the theme of personal dignity combined with ardent political activism is evident in the life of Mrs. Kate Mxakatho. Like Mrs. Amelia Scott Green in Alabama, Mrs. Mxakatho, who was a domestic worker in the white suburbs of Johannesburg, gladly participated in the 1950s movement to eradicate white supremacy. The story of her involvement reveals a spirited and purposeful woman...
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Perhaps initially, it is easier to point to the differences than to the similarities between 1950s Black women’s resistance in Montgomery, Alabama, and Johannesburg, South Africa. To begin with, the close-up histories of Black people in the two locations differ. Black South Africans were, at the outset, a free people in the land of their birth, but they were forced to surrender their sovereignty to Dutch and British imperial powers and their...
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Page Count: 338
Illustrations: 20 illus.
Publication Year: 2008