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Six Prophetic Works Prophesying Daughters and Social Activism—The Case of Frances Joseph Gaudet Most scholars of black feminist thought pinpoint the late 1800s and the turn of the century as a defining era in black women’s social and political involvement. Though prior to this moment black women had always played active roles in shaping and defining black life and culture, at the turn of the century they were more actively and vocally questioning the status quo and were quite assertively projecting their own views on the direction in which not only black Americans but also American society in general should head. These race women knew that what black women were doing collectively was consciously correcting what had been up to that point a deliberate effort to exclude black women from the American social picture.1 It could have been taken as a given that white male–run institutions were excluding them, but they also faced exclusion within their own institutions, such as churches, civic organizations, and universities. White women created their own organizations and movements without including black women’s issues and concerns either. Such exclusionary practices did not keep many black women from realizing that if they were going to be taken seriously as active agents for change, they were going to have to take matters in their own hands and become politically involved and vocal. 1. “Race women” were black women who actively participated in educational, political, and moral programs for racial uplift. 90 ing what had been up to that point a deliberate effort to exclude them from the American social picture.1 It could have been taken as a given that white male–run institutions were marginalizing them,but they also faced isolation within their own institutions, such as churches, civic Prophetic Works 91 Paralleling black women’s active public involvement, a consciousness emerged that women like Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Ida B. WellsBarnett , Anna Julia Cooper, Hallie Quinn Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Jackson Coppin, and Frances E. W. Harper were not only actively shaping how they were going to be perceived as black women, but also that they had clear agendas for taking responsibility for the direction of the race. They used speeches, novels, essays, articles, and other forms of expression to speak out against the racial and social wrongs that blacks were suffering during the late 1890s: the increase in lynchings, constant attacks by mobs, and the daily indignities that they had to suffer under Jim Crowism. They began to create clubs such as the Women’s Era Club (1894), the National Federation of Colored Women (1895), and the National Colored Women’s League (1897) to collectively organize their efforts, thus launching what is now commonly known as the black women’s club movement. So prevalent was black women’s public and social presence that Frances E. W. Harper declared the period she was living in to be the “woman’s era.”2 Because of the black women’s active public involvement during this time, many scholars such as Frances Smith Foster, Hazel Carby, Patricia Hill Collins, Carla Peterson, Deborah McDowell, and Paula Giddings rightfully recognize this period as a critical moment in the development of black feminist thought. While contemporary discussions of these race women have provided invaluable insight into the role of black women in shaping social consciousness, they have also slighted the roles that prophesying daughters played in social development. A lot of this has to do with the limited attention scholars have given religion, although scholars have indeed discussed the importance of morality and virtue to race women at the turn of the century. Issues like having high moral values and displaying virtue at all times were at the forefront of the nineteenth-century black feminist platform. Black women realized that they “were seen as immoral scourges,” and that “the idea of a moral Black woman was incredible.” Consequently, “black women have created and cultivated a set of ethical values that allow them to prevail against the 2. Harper termed this time period the “woman’s era” while giving a speech as one of six black women invited to the primarily white World’s Congress of Representative Women in May 1893. Because of black women’s active public involvement during this time, many scholars such as Frances Smith Foster, Hazel Carby, Patriblack women in shaping social consciousness,they have somewhat slighted the roles that prophesying daughters played in social development.A lot 92 Prophesying...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826262998
Related ISBN
9780826214676
MARC Record
OCLC
1017609628
Pages
160
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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