In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

xi Preface In February of 1926 an interracial group of five women and one man sailed from New York to Haiti to investigate the continued United States occupation of the island. After traveling for three weeks and talking with a vast array of Haitians, the team, under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), returned to the United States and wrote Occupied Haiti, a 250-page report that chronicled the deteriorating cultural, agricultural, economic, and political conditions Haitians faced as a result of US intervention. The report heavily criticized the use of paternalist racism by government officials as justification for the occupation and it recorded the prevalence of Jim Crow practices and attitudes among the marines stationed on the island. Historians have noted that this WILPF mission accelerated antiimperialists ’ criticism of US dollar diplomacy, deepened grassroots interest in opposing the occupation, and increased progressives’ leverage with congressional officials.1 But the mission also marked the deepening of interracial alliances among middle-class women interested in securing world peace and racial justice. When Emily Greene Balch and Addie Hunton, two nationally prominent social reformers, led the Haiti mission, they publicly united the political power of the primarily white women’s peace movement and the black women’s club movement. The very presence of the WILPF Haiti mission, in its racial diversity and female leadership , challenged US Jim Crow policies and paternalism. According to Occupied Haiti, Haitians in Port-au-Prince welcomed the WILPF team and were delighted that the interracial group of women was sharing “in most friendly fashion” the same sleeping quarters. Emily Greene Balch and Addie Hunton’s joint mission to Haiti did more than protest US foreign xii | Preface policy; it personified the possibility of racial harmony and world peace in the form of women’s interracial unity.2 As A Band of Noble Women reveals, complex political, intellectual, and social relationships emerged among the women’s peace movement, African American women’s reform politics , and black internationalism more generally. And this race-conscious women’s peace activism helped cultivate proto–civil rights consciousness, indicating the relevance of peace activism to the emergent civil rights movements of later decades. This book examines how the WILPF responded to and shaped the prevailing currents of racial thought and politics that dominated the first four decades of the twentieth century. Assembling a multivalent history of the women’s peace movement and the black women’s club and social reform movements, this work provides a fresh perspective on an important story of race, gender, class, community, and consciousness building between the two wars. These “noble women” also coalesced around cosmopolitan ideals of internationalism, interdependency, and mutual humanity; and practicing interracial unity—from sponsoring investigative missions to Haiti to arranging interracial study groups on US foreign policy—allowed them to challenge nationalism, foster world-mindedness, and confront the tenets of Jim Crow.3 Arguably, activists like Emily Greene Balch and Addie Hunton would not have been able to achieve what they did without the WILPF, an organization founded in 1915 and dedicated to uniting women around the world to secure the conditions necessary for social justice and peace. A Band of Noble Women considers three intricate ways in which the WILPF negotiated and influenced the racial politics of the early twentieth century . First, it examines the WILPF’s work to challenge the major racial ideologies of the period and to forge counter or dissident ideologies as a part of its campaigns against war and for peace and freedom. Second, it traces the leadership the WILPF provided on some of the central racial justice issues of the interwar period, namely, US foreign policy in Haiti and Liberia and efforts to pass antilynching legislation. Third, it takes up the WILPF’s uneven and fraught attempts at racial integration within its own membership and leadership. In this way, this case study encourages Preface | xiii us to attend to the contradictions that constituted the shifting ground of US racial politics during the interwar period. I begin by offering a revised history of the founding years of the WILPF. The introduction resituates the WILPF within the context of early twentieth-century race relations and politics and the rise of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the black women’s club movement, the New Negro movement, and Pan-Africanism. The book is then divided into two parts. The two chapters in the first part investigate the influence of World...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.