African American Feminization of Du Bois' Discourse
Woman, Mother, —your responsibility is one that might make angels tremble andfear to take hold! To trifle with it, to ignore or misuse it, is to treat lightly the most sacredandsolemn trust ever confidedby Godto human kind. The training of children is a task on which an infinity of weal or woe depends. Who does not covet it?1
At the turn of the century, it cannot be disputed that, alongside W. E. B. Du Bois and other African American male luminaries, African American clubwomen andopinion leaders (such as Anna Julia Cooper quotedabove) were codefenders of an insouciant nationalist program. Defined by the Pan-African Conference of 1900, Du Bois's nationalism assertedthat there were cultural distinctions that united peoples of African descent across geographical, national, andlinguistic borders. He stoppedshort, however, of attempting to implement a separate African American nation-state. Writing on the construction of African American identity, Judith Stein states that Du Bois's nationalism at this time was not dominated by eschatologies of a separate African statehood. Rather, he assigned “a moral and metaphysical significance” to the idea of nation-building on the basis of
I am grateful for a Fall Quarter 1994 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship from the University of Georgia, which enabledme to travel to research issues of the A.M.E. Church Review at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. With a 1989 Summer Faculty Research Awardfrom the State University of New York–Albany, I visitedFisk University for Pauline Hopkins's manuscripts.