Black Women in White America: A Documentary History



Black Women in White America: A Documentary History

This edition

"Black Women in White America: A Documentary History." Ed. Gerda Lerner. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972. xxxvi+630 pp.

Other editions, reprints, and translations

● Repr. New York: Vintage Books, 1973. xxxvi+630 pp.
● Repr. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. xxxvi+630 pp.

Table of contents

● Preface
● Acknowledgments
● Notes on Sources
● Mary McLeod Bethune / An Introduction

1. Slavery
Purchase and Sale
● Bill of Sale of Abraham Van Vleeck (1811)
● Mrs. Blankenship Wishes to Buy a Slave Girl (1863)
● Moses Grandy’s Wife Is Sold (1844)
● A Slave Dealer’s Sale Receipts (1863)
● A Mother Is Sold Away from Her Children
● A Slave Mother Succeeds in Returning to Her Family (1846)
● A Slave Shams Illness to Stay with Her Husband (1847)

Tell It Like It Was
● Daily Life of Plantation Slaves
● The Slaves’ Garden Plot (1836)
● A House Slave’s Family Life (1861)
● A Seamstress Is Punished (1839)
● The Daily Life of House Slaves (1839)
● Martha Harrison / I Wasn’t Crying ‘Bout Mistress, I Was Crying ‘Cause the White Bread Was Gone

The Struggle for Survival: Day-to-Day Resistance
● Susie King Taylor / Sneaking an Education: Memories of a Contraband
● Foolin’ Massa: Memories of a Contraband
● Josephine Thomas White / She Finally Went to School That One Night
● Milla Granson / A Slave Woman Runs a Midnight School
● A Slave Mother in Business
● Fight, and If You Can’t Fight, Kick
● A Mother Purchases Her Daughter
● Ransoming a Woman from Slavery (1859)
● Stephen and Juba (1838-39)

A Woman’s Fate
● The Way Women Are Treated (1839)
● The ‘Breeder Woman’
● The Nursing Mothers (1836)
● A Slaveholder’s Wife Listens to Her Slaves (1838-39)
● The Slaveholder’s Mistress
● A Slaveholder Confides to Her Diary
● The Story of Nancy Weston as Told by Her Son (1868)

On the Road to Freedom
● The Rescue of Jane Johnson (1855)
● Dramatic Slave Rescues (1855, 1857)
● The Case of Margaret Garner (1856)
● Harriet Tubman / They Called Her ‘Moses’ (1860)
● Ellen Craft / An Ingenious Escape (1848)

2. The Struggle for Education
Learning to Teach
● Maria W. Stewart / Teaching School to Keep Alive (1832)
● Sarah Mapps Douglass / Establishing a Girls’ Department in the Institute for Colored Youth (1853)
● Fannie Jackson Coppin / Training to Become an Educator (1869)
● Fannie Jackson Coppin / Methods of Instruction (1913)

Teaching the Freedmen
● Charlotte Forten Grimké / A Teacher from the North (1863)
● Susie King Taylor / A Former Slave Teaching Black Soldiers (1862)
● Teachers Wanted (1865)
● Reports from the Field (1866-69)
● Administration of Freedmen’s Schools (1871)
● An Example of Teaching Materials Used in Freedmen’s Schools in Virginia in 1870
● Catechizing Freedmen Children (1869)
● They Would Not Let Us Have Schools (1871)
● Septima Poinsetta Clark / Schooling in the Jim Crow South (1916-28)

School Founders
● Lucy Laney / A Progress Report from the Founder of the Haines School (1893)
● Charlotte Hawkins Brown / Fund Raising for Palmer Memorial Institute (1920-21)
● Nannie Burroughs / The National Training School for Girls Appeals for Funds (1929)
● Mary McLeod Bethune / A College on a Garbage Dump (1941)
● Mary McLeod Bethune / Another ‘Begging’ Letter (1930)

3. A Woman’s Lot
Black Women Are Sex Objects for White Men
● The Married Life of Georgia Peons (1901)
● We Are Little More Than Slaves (1912)
● No Protection for Black Girls (1904)
● Their Rage Was Chiefly Directed Against Men (1863)
● The Final Solution (1911, 1914)

The Myth of the “Bad” Black Woman
● Fannie Barrier Williams / The Accusations Are False (1904)
● Anon. / A Colored Woman, However Respectable, Is Lower Than the White Prostitute (1902)
● Elsie Johnson McDougald / In Defense of Black Women (1925)

The Rape of Black Women as a Weapon of Terror
● The Memphis Riot (1865)
● KKK Terror during Reconstruction (1871)
● Defend Black Women—and Die!: The Lynching of Berry Washington (1919)
● Defend Black Women—and Die!: The Case of Mrs. Rosa Lee Ingram and Her Sons (1947-59)

Black Women Attack the Lynching System
● Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / Let There Be Justice (1891)
● How to Stop Lynching (1894)
● Ida B. Wells Barnett / A Red Record (1895)
● Mary Church Terrell / Lynching from a Negro’s Point of View (1904)
● The Anti-Lynching Crusaders (1923)

4. Making a Living
Doing Domestic Work
● Anon. / I Live a Treadmill Life (1912)
● Slave Markets in New York City (1940)
● The Domestic Workers’ Union (1937)
● Dorothy Bolden / Organizing Domestic Workers in Atlanta, Georgia (1970)

From Service Jobs to the Factory
● Susie King Taylor / An Army Laundress at War (1864)
● Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / Black Women in the Reconstruction South (1878)
● Jean Collier Brown / The Negro Woman Worker: 1860-1890 (1931)
● Emma L. Shields / The Tobacco Workers (1921)
● Elizabeth Ross Haynes / Two Million Women at Work (1922)
● Mollie V. Lewis / Women of the Steel Towns (1938)
● Sabina Martinez / A Black Union Organizer (1941)
● Organizing at Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Estelle Folwers, Luanna Cooper, Moranda Smith (1947-51)
● Florence Rice / It Takes a While to Realize That It Is Discrimination (1970)

5. Survival Is a Form of Resistance
● Charlottle Ann Jackson / Something Told Me Not to Be Afraid (1865)
● Three Times Three Cheers for the Gunboat Boys (1863?)
● Anon. / A Black Woman Remembers Her Father (1904)
● Frances A. Joseph Gaudet / A Family Struggles to Keep Going (1868)
● Maria L. Baldwin / A Night Watch (1863?)
● Ellen Tarry / I Was a Negro Come of Age (1955)
● Mrs. Henry Weddington / We Want to Live, Not Merely Exist (1941)
● Sarah Tuck / Blue Fork Is the Worst Place I Know (1941)
● Daisy Lee Bates / I Did Not Really Understand What It Meant to Be a Negro (1927)
● Louise Meriwether / Helping Out Daddy (1967)
● Helen Howard / Am I My Brother’s Keeper? (1965)
● Anon. / Having a Baby inside Me Is the Only Time I’m Really Alive (1964)

6. In Government Service and Political Life
● Mary Ann Shadd Cary / A Pioneer Newspaper Woman (1852)
● Harriet Tubman / Nurse, Spy and Scout (1868, 1898)
● Eva D. Bowles / Opportunities for the Educated Colored Woman (1923)
● Mary Church Terrell / Government Work in World War I (1917-18)
● Elizabeth Piper Ensley / ‘Election Day’ (1894)
● Mrs. Robert A. Patterson / The Negro Woman in Politics (1922)
● Charlotta Bass / I Accept This Call (1952)
● Ella Baker / Developing Community Leadership (1970)
● Shirley Chisholm / The 51% Minority (1970)

7. The Monster Prejudice
In the Grip of the Monster
● Amy Spain / Martyr for Freedom (1865)
● Sarah M[apps] Douglass / I Believe They Despise Us for Our Color (1837)
● Charlotte Forten Grimké / When, Oh! When Shall This Cease? (1855, 1899)
● Sojourner Truth / Fighting Jim Crow (approx. 1866)
● Charlotte Hawkins Brown / Suing for Her Rights (1921)
● Anon. / The Small Horrors of Childhood (1904)
● Mary Church Terrell / What It Means to Be Colored in the Capital of the United States (1907)
● Mahalia Jackson / Traveling Jim Crow (1966)
● The Life and Death of Juliette Derricotte (1931)
● There Is No Prejudice in Arkansas (1936)
● Discrimination on WPA: Black Women Appeal to FDR (1935, 1941)

● Nannie Burroughs / The Causes of the Harlem Riot (1935)
● Breaking Restrictive Covenants (1948)
● Daisy Bates / The Ordeal of the Children (1962)
● Anne Moody / All I Could Think of Was How Sick Mississippi Whites Were (1968)

8. “Lifting as We Climb”
From Benevolent Societies to National Club Movement
● The Afric-American Female Intelligence Society of Boston (1832)
● Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Margaret Murray Washington / The Beginnings of the National Club Movement (1895)
● Fannie Barrier Williams / The Ruffin Incident (1900)
● Club Activities, NACW Convention (1906)

Interracial Work
● Cooperation on a Community Level (1907)
● The Colored Women’s Statement (1919)
● Speaking Up for the Race at Memphis (1920)
● How to Stop Lynchings: A Discussion (1935)

Inside a White Organization—The Young Women’s Christian Association
● Eva Bowles Calls for Action (1920)
● What the Colored Women Are Asking of the YWCA (1920)
● Too Much Paternalism in ‘Y’s’ (1920)
● Eva Bowles / Reports by the Secretary for Colored Work (1922-30)
● Anna Arnold Hedgeman / Reminiscences of a YWCA Worker (1924-38)

Grass-Roots Work
● Plan of Work: Atlanta Colored Women’s War Council, World War I (1918)
● The Neighborhood Union, Atlanta, Georgia (1908-32)
● The Story of the Gate City Free Kindergarten Association
● The Poor Help Themselves: The Vine City Foundation (1968)
● Operation Daily Bread: The National Council of Negro Women (1969)

9. Race Pride
● Maria W. Stewart / Throw Off Your Fearfulness and Come Forth (1832)
● Anon. / Emigration to Mexico (1832)
● Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / I Belong to This Race (1870)
● Ida B. Wells Barnett / Let the Afro-American Depend but on Himself (1892)
● Amanda Smith Jemand / The South Is Our Home (1901)
● Black History Builds Race Pride (1933)
● Mary Church Terrell / Please Stop Using the Word ‘Negro’ (1882, 1922, 1938)
● Nannie Burroughs / Glorify Blackness (1949)
● Nannie Burroughs / Unload Your Uncle toms (1927)
● Dara Abubakari (Virginia E. Y. Collins) / The Only Thing You Can Aspire to Is Nationhood (1970)

10. Black Women Speak of Womanhood
● Maria W. Stewart / What If I Am a Woman? (1832)
● Sojourner Truth / I Suppose I Am About the Only Colored Woman That Goes About to Speak for the Rights of Colored Women (1853, 1867)
● Anna J. Cooper / The Colored Woman Should Not Be Ignored (1892)
● Fannie Barrier Williams / The New Black Woman (1900)
● Amy-Jacques Garvey / Women as Leaders (1925)
● Mary McLeod Bethune / A Century of Progress of Negro Women (1933)
● Mahalia Jackson / The Strength of the Negro Mother (1966)
● Dara Abubakari (Virginia E. Y. Collins) / The Black Woman Is Liberated in Her Own Mind (1970)
● Renee Ferguson / Women’s Liberation Has a Different Meaning for Blacks (1970)
● Pauli Murray / Jim Crow and Jane Crow (1964)
● Patricia Robinson / Poor Black Women (1970)
● Shirley Chisholm / Facing the Abortion Question (1970)
● Margaret Wright / I Want the Right to Be Black and Me (1970)
● Fannie Lou Hamer / It’s in Your Hands (1971)

● Biographical Notes

About the anthology

● The title of this anthology echoes that of Mary Church Terrell's "A Colored Woman in a White World" (1940; repr. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996)

Publisher's description

● "In this fine collection of rare documentary sources, many of them previously unpublished, African-American women in their rich diversity speak of themselves, their lives, their ambitions, their struggles. Theirs are stores of oppression and survival, of family and community self-help, of inspiring heroism and grass-roots organizational continuity in the face of racism, economic hardship, and, far too often, violence. In the spirit of the slave mother who counseled her daughter, "Fight, and if you can't fight, kick; if you can't kick, then bite," black women resisted sexual abuse and economic oppression, cared for black children and neighbors, and organized for survival and political power. Their vivid accounts, their strong and insistent voices, make for inspiring reading, enriching our understanding of the American past"--Book cover (from WorldCat).

Reviews and notices of anthology

● Simmons, Althea T. L. "The Crisis" 79.9 (Nov. 1972): 320-21. [Google Books]
"The mystique of the black woman has been both the pride and the bane of her existence. Forced by circumstances, in many cases, to be the economic and social ballast of the black family, the black woman learned the hard way to fill the unique role of being black and female in a male-dominated society.
"Gerda Lerner attempts to unravel the mystique of the black woman in 'Black Women in White America,' a thematic collection of vignettes of well and little known black women of the last two centuries.
"Ms. Lerner has brought to light a wealth of previously unpublished materials which will be helpful to students of black history primarily because they have been assembled in a single volume.
"Although Ms. Lerner missed the mark in balancing the materials, the poignant accounts of the black woman's struggle for survival and recognition in a white racist society cannot be minimized. . . . //
"The strength of the black woman permeates the last three chapters in a superb collection of accounts of grass-roots work, race pride and womanhood" (320-21).
"The book has merit. The lack of cohesion in the work can be attributed to the author's desire to acquaint the reader with a wide variety of sketches. It is unfortunate that the documents included in the collection of Mary McLeod Bethune, Nannie H. Burroughs, Ida B. Wells Barnett and Charlotte Hawkins Brown are not representative of their outstanding achievements.
"Ms. Lerner has opened the door to an almost untouched wellspring of black history. Hopefully this volume will inspire other writers to round out the picture of black women in white America" (321).

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