African American Women and the Vote, 1837-1965

By Ann D. Gordon; Bettye Collier-Thomas | Go to book overview

Advancement of the Race
through African American
Women's Organizations
in the South, 1895-1925

Cynthia Neverdon-Morton

During the period from 1895 to 1925, black women addressed issues and concerns facing them as women and systematically responded to specific needs of the black community through the development and strengthening of local, national, and international social service and self-help organizations. This essay examines the efforts of black women, individually and in groups, to effect social and political change which would result in advancement of the race. Often, their activities were responses to progressivism, imperialism, self-determinism, and racism on both national and international levels. At the same time, more often than not, their activism was coupled with the desire to achieve full equality in American society. In examining the activism of black women, attention is given to two southern locales, Baltimore, Maryland, because of its urban character, and Tuskegee, Alabama, because it served as a model for programs in other rural communities. 1

Southern women focused on many needs of African Americans: the plight of working women, limited economic opportunities, inferior housing, severe health problems, the political and social straitjacket of Jim Crowism, care for the aged, and programs for the very young. Educational initiatives are highlighted in this essay because the key to solving all of these problems, black

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