Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality

Article excerpt

Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality. By Marcia Walker-McWilliams. Women, Gender, and Sexuality in American History. (Urbana and other cities: University of Illinois Press, 2016. Pp. xii, 266. Paper, $28.00, ISBN 978-0-252-08199-6; cloth, $95.00, ISBN 978-0-252-04052-8.)

A vast amount of scholarship has been written about major social movements in American history, including civil rights, labor, women's rights, and religious movements, but few studies like Marcia Walker-McWilliams's Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality speak to all of these movements in one comprehensive book that spans the Great Depression through the 1990s. In 266 pages and seven chapters, Walker-McWilliams uncovers the remarkable story of a hidden figure, Addie Wyatt, an African American woman who shattered the glass ceiling in the labor movement, became the first female president of a local chapter of the United Packinghouse Workers of America, and later retired as one of the "highest-ranked women in the organized labor movement" (p. 3). Wyatt was not only a pioneer for women in the labor movement but also a civil rights activist, clergywoman, wife, and mother who, as Walker-McWilliams argues, had a "desire for equality and a better way of life" (p. 217).

The first two chapters of the book are very informative. They offer critical insight into how Wyatt became a leader. The reader is introduced to a young Addie Cameron, who migrated from Brookhaven, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, with her family at the age of six. Walker-McWilliams describes the Cameron family's time in Brookhaven as one surrounded by racial injustices that impacted the larger community and eventually caused the family to move to Chicago. In Chicago, the Cameron family experienced extreme poverty for the first time, and Addie Cameron began to seek guidance from the strong women in her life and from her Christian faith. …

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