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Black Women's Resistance in the U.S. South and South Africa
In the mid-1950s, as many developing nations sought independence from colonial rule, black women in the American South and in South Africa launched parallel campaigns to end racial injustice within their respective communities. Just as the dignified obstinacy of Mrs. Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, the 20,000 South African women who marched in Pretoria a year later to protest the pass laws signaled a new wave of resistance to the system of apartheid. In both places women who had previously been consigned to subordinate roles brought fresh leadership to the struggle for political freedom and social equality. In this book, Pamela E. Brooks tells their story, documenting the extraordinary achievements of otherwise ordinary women.In comparing the experiences of black women activists in two different parts of the African diaspora, Brooks draws heavily on oral histories that provide clear, and often painful, insight into their backgrounds, their motives, their hopes, and their fears. We learn how black women from all walks of life—domestic and factory workers, householders, teachers, union organizers, churchwomen, clubwomen, rural and urban dwellers alike—had to overcome their class differences and work through the often difficult gender relations within their families and communities. Yet eventually they came together to forge their own political organizations, such as the Women’s Political Council and the Federation of South African Women, or joined orga-nizations of women and men, such as the Montgomery Improvement Association and the African National Congress, to advance the common agenda of black liberation.By tracing the dual rise of political consciousness and activism among the black women of the U.S. South and South Africa, Brooks not only illuminates patterns that have long been overlooked but places that shared history within the context of a larger global struggle to bring an end to the vestiges of European colonialism.
The Women of Charleston's Urban Slave Society
"[A] stunning, deeply researched, and gracefully written social history." -- Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa
This study of women in antebellum Charleston, South Carolina, looks at the roles of women in an urban slave society. Cynthia M. Kennedy takes up issues of gender, race, condition (slave or free), and class and examines the ways each contributed to conveying and replicating power. She analyses what it meant to be a woman in a world where historically specific social classifications determined personal destiny and where at the same time people of color and white people mingled daily. Kennedy's study examines the lives of the women of Charleston and the variety of their attempts to negotiate the web of social relations that ensnared them.
Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism
Can black males offer useful insights on black women and patriarchy? Many black feminists are doubtful. Their skepticism derives in part from a history of explosive encounters with black men who blamed feminism for stigmatizing black men and undermining racial solidarity and in part from a perception that black male feminists are opportunists capitalizing on the current popularity of black women's writing and criticism. In Breaking the Silence, David Ikard goes boldly to the crux of this debate through a series of provocative readings of key African American texts that demonstrate the possibility and value of a viable black male feminist perspective. Seeking to advance the primary objectives of black feminism, Ikard provides literary models from Chester Himes's If He Hollers Let Him Go, James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters, and Walter Mosley's Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned and Walkin' the Dog that consciously wrestle with the concept of victim status for black men and women. He looks at how complicity across gender lines, far from rooting out patriarchy in the black community, has allowed it to thrive. This complicity, Ikard explains, is a process by which victimized groups invest in victim status to the point that they unintentionally concede power to their victimizers and engage in patterns of behavior that are perceived as revolutionary but actually reinforce the status quo. While black feminism has fostered important and necessary discussions regarding the problems of patriarchy within the black community, little attention has been paid to the intersecting dynamics of complicity. By laying bare the nexus between victim status and complicity in oppression, Breaking the Silence charts a new direction for conceptualizing black women's complex humanity and provides the foundations for more expansive feminist approaches to resolving intraracial gender conflicts.
Black Nationalism, Feminism, and Integration in the United States, 1896-1935
High-profile rivalries between black male leaders in the early twentieth century have contributed to the view that integrationism and black nationalism were diametrically opposed philosophies shaped primarily by men. Bridging Race Divides challenges this conceptualization by examining prominent "race women" (including Amy Jacques Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Madame C. J. Walker) as well as other participants in the Harlem Renaissance, Garveyism and the clubwomen's movement to reveal the depth and complexity of women's contributions to both black feminist and black nationalist traditions of activism in the early twentieth century.
Ideas of authenticity and respectability were central to the construction of black identities within black cultural and political resistance movements of the early twentieth century. Unfortunately both concepts have also been used to demonize black middle-class women whose endeavors towards racial uplift are too frequently dismissed as assimilationist and whose class status has apparently disqualified them from performing "authentic" blackness and exhibiting race pride.
Kate Dossett challenges these conceptualizations in a thorough examination of prominent black women leaders' political thought and cultural production in the years between the founding of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. Through an analysis of black women's political activism, entrepreneurship and literary endeavor, Dossett argues that black women made significant contributions toward the development of a black feminist tradition which enabled them to challenge the apparent dichotomy between black nationalism and integrationism.
By exploring the connections between women like the pioneering black hairdresser Madam C. J. Walker and her daughter, A'Lelia, as well as clubwoman Mary McLeod Bethune and United Negro Improvement Association activist Amy Jacques Garvey, Dossett also makes a distinctive contribution to the field of women's history by positioning black women at the forefront of both intellectual and practical endeavors in the struggle for black autonomy.
Students, Segregationists, and the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia
In 1959, Prince Edward County, Virginia, abolished its public school system in opposition to the landmark decision against school segregation, Brown v. Board of Education. It took five years and another Supreme Court decision for the county to reopen public school doors. Titus explores the background of the crisis, the period in which the schools were closed, and the repercussions of this educational tragedy. She focuses on the years between 1951 (when black students walked out of the decrepit Moton High School) and 1969 (when black students staged a second strike), but also carries the story up to the present to demonstrate the consequences of the county's years of massive resistance to desegregation. Titus show that the Prince Edward County story is a vital chapter of America's civil rights story. While there have been journalistic, autobiographical, and fictional stories about the educational crisis, there has been no scholarly treatment of the subject. In 1965 the Press published journalist Bob Smith's They Closed Their Schools: Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1951-1964. However, Titus has a wealth of new archival material to draw upon and takes a broader perspective.
A Black Soldiers Anthology
In the decades following the Civil War, scores of African Americans served in the U.S. Army in the West. The Plains Indians dubbed them buffalo soldiers, and their record in the infantry and cavalry, a record full of dignity and pride, provides one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the era. This anthology focuses on the careers and accomplishments of black soldiers, the lives they developed for themselves, their relationships to their officers (most of whom were white), their specialized roles (such as that of the Black Seminoles), and the discrimination they faced from the very whites they were trying to protect. In short, this volume offers important insights into the social, cultural, and communal lives of the buffalo soldiers. The selections are written by prominent scholars who have delved into the history of black soldiers in the West. Previously published in scattered journals, the articles are gathered here for the first time in a single volume, providing a rich and accessible resource for students, scholars, and interested general readers. Additionally, the readings in this volume serve in some ways as commentaries on each other, offering in this collected format a cumulative mosaic that was only fragmentary before. Volume editors Glasrud and Searles provide introductions to the volume and to each of its four parts, surveying recent scholarship and offering an interpretive framework. The bibliography that closes the book will also commend itself as a valuable tool for further research.
Merchants, Capital, and the Remaking of Natchez, 1865–1914
Builders of a New South describes how, between 1865 and 1914, ten Natchez mercantile families emerged as leading purveyors in the wholesale plantation supply and cotton handling business, and soon became a dominant force in the social and economic Reconstruction of the Natchez District. They were able to take advantage of postwar conditions in Natchez to gain mercantile prominence by supplying planters and black sharecroppers in the plantation supply and cotton buying business. They parlayed this initial success into cotton plantation ownership and became important local businessmen in Natchez, participating in many civic improvements and politics that shaped the district into the twentieth century.This book digs deep in countless records (including census, tax, property, and probate, as well as thousands of chattel mortgage contracts) to explore how these traders functioned as entrepreneurs in the aftermath of the Civil War, examining closely their role as furnishing merchants and land speculators, as well as their relations with the area's planters and freed black population. Their use of favorable laws protecting them as creditors, along with a solid community base that was civic-minded and culturally intact, greatly assisted them in their success. These families prospered partly because of their good business practices, and partly because local whites and blacks embraced them as useful agents in the emerging new marketplace. The situation created by the aftermath of the war and emancipation provided an ideal circumstance for the merchant families, and in the end, they played a key role in the district's economic survival and were the prime modernizers of Natchez.
Traditions and Legacies of Blackface Minstrelsy
Beginning in the 1830s and continuing for more than a century, blackface minstrelsy—stage performances that claimed to represent the culture of black Americans—remained arguably the most popular entertainment in North America. A renewed scholarly interest in this contentious form of entertainment has produced studies treating a range of issues: its contradictory depictions of class, race, and gender; its role in the development of racial stereotyping; and its legacy in humor, dance, and music, and in live performance, film, and television. The style and substance of minstrelsy persist in popular music, tap and hip-hop dance, the language of the standup comic, and everyday rituals of contemporary culture. The blackface makeup all but disappeared for a time, though its influence never diminished—and recently, even the makeup has been making a comeback. This collection of original essays brings together a group of prominent scholars of blackface performance to reflect on this complex and troublesome tradition. Essays consider the early relationship of the blackface performer with American politics and the antislavery movement; the relationship of minstrels to the commonplace compromises of the touring “show” business and to the mechanization of the industrial revolution; the exploration and exploitation of blackface in the mass media, by D. W. Griffith and Spike Lee, in early sound animation, and in reality television; and the recent reappropriation of the form at home and abroad. In addition to the editor, contributors include Dale Cockrell, Catherine Cole, Louis Chude-Sokei, W. T. Lhamon, Alice Maurice, Nicholas Sammond, and Linda Williams.
Its Development and Implementation
Michael Boston offers a radical departure from other interpretations of Booker T. Washington by focusing on the latter’s business ideas and practices.
More specifically, Boston examines Washington as an entrepreneur, spelling out his business philosophy at great length and discussing the influence it had on black America. He analyzes the national and regional economies in which Washington worked and focuses on his advocacy of black business development as the key to economic uplift for African Americans.
The result is a revisionist book that responds to the skewed literature on Washington even as it offers a new framework for understanding him. Based upon a deep reading of the Tuskegee archives, it acknowledges Washington not only as a champion of black business development but one who conceived and implemented successful strategies to promote it as well.
The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington makes abundantly clear that Washington was not an accommodationist; it will be required reading for any future discussion of this titan of history.
Vol. 18 (1995) through current issue
CALLALOO, the premier African Diaspora literary journal, publishes original works by, and critical studies of, black writers worldwide. The journal offers a rich mixture of fiction, poetry, plays, critical essays, cultural studies, interviews, and visual art. Frequent annotated bibliographies, special thematic issues, and original art and photography are some of the features of this highly acclaimed international showcase of arts and letters.