Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb

Article excerpt

Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb. By Betty Livingston Adams. (New York: New York University Press, 2016, Pp. x, 246. $25.00.)

In this book, Betty Livingston Adams explores the struggle for social justice in the segregated north through the experiences of working class African American women. The setting is the emerging suburb of Summit, Newjersey, 1898-1925. These women were proponents and collaborators for social change as Summit grew from a village to suburbia.

It was a time when many blacks in the north were hopeful for egalitarian change but were met with the challenge of northern segregation and political retrenchment. Service workers were necessary to build and maintain the life style of emerging suburbs. They were expected to work, but to be an invisible subculture and their institutions were not to visibly intrude on or interrupt white space. These women were caught in a matrix of emerging segregationist ideology and public policy which determined that the "ideal suburb" was a white only space.

The leadership and activism of black working women was challenged by white men and women as well as black men as they "resisted, cooperated, subverted, and partnered" (11) to develop religious and civic institutions. Black women were not deterred by the boundaries of white space, Victorian expectations of ideal womanhood, economic or racial norms, and found their selfdefinition in their Protestant Christian faith. …

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