the Struggle," explored the mass experience of African American women during years of intense racism and political experimentation, from 1900 to 1935, when women played important roles in developing new political structures and strategies to move their community forward.
Finally, in "Movin' On Up:"Afro-American Women's Search for New Forms of Political Power, participants looked at women's importance to the resurgence of black political power and at how the new movement for enfranchisement between 1930 and 1965 contributed to the rise of African American feminism.
Through this framework the authors of these essays have begun to construct a history that defines citizenship from the perspective of women who fought long and hard to gain minimal legal recognition of rights deemed "natural" by the founders of the United States. Thus the essays undermine all history that has ignored historic limitations on rights, fabricated a universal experience from stories of the privileged, or turned a deaf ear to the ideals that African American women have defined as significant for themselves, their families, their race, and their nation.
Proceedings from a conference often fail to convey the energy, excitement, and intellectual fireworks that occurred. In this case that difficulty is compounded by our inability to include the commentaries or transcribe discussion. In offering the papers from this event we want to draw attention to the new and imaginative reconstructions and reinterpretations they contain. As the research of these scholars continues and the published results make their way into the arena of historical debate, we will soon realize that we will no longer be able to teach the old "truths" of American, African American, and women's history. A lot of what we thought was solid ground is being taken out from under our feet in every time period, in every area of focus. We can resist new knowledge and approaches and try to hold fast to what we have learned and taught previously. Or we can read these essays as guideposts to a much more interesting and complex view of the history of the United States than we had ever imagined.