Harvest Time for the Black Man, and Seed-Sowing Time for Woman: Nancy Works in the Cotton Field
But to be a woman of the Negro race in America, and to be able to grasp the deep significance of the possibilities of the crisis, is to have a heritage, it seems to me, unique in the ages.
Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South ( 1892)
The special plight and the role of black women is not something that just happened three years ago. We've had a special plight for 350 years.
Fannie Lou Hamer, Speech to NAACP Legal Defense Fund Institute, 7 May 19711
When Truth gathered the children around her in Elizabeth Cady Stanton's parlor in mid-May 1867 to hear the newspaper reports of her speeches at the Equal Rights Convention, the woman's rights movement led by white feminists was in painful transition. No woman's rights meetings had been held during the Civil War, while women, as Stanton later wrote, "held their own claims in abeyance to those of the slaves in the South."2 At the end of the Civil War, white feminist reformers who had worked for the end of slavery viewed themselves as a full-fledged part of Reconstruction. Just as they had seen the constitutional conventions at the state levels as opportunities to secure the rights of women in new laws, they saw Reconstruction not merely as the reordering of relationships between the southern states and the federal government, but as an all- encompassing restructuring of the nation from which a new world for