Date: Thu, 8 Jan 1998 16:53:51 -0500
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Sam Lanfranco <lanfran@YORKU.CA>
Subject: BLACK WOMEN ABOLITIONISTS _&_ ORGANIZED LABOR IN THE U.S. SOUTH
--- Forwarded from WOMENSPACE@yorku.ca -------------------
Black Women Abolitionists, A Study in Activism, 1828-1860, by Shirley J. Yee, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1992
Reviewed by Dave Silver, 6 January 1998
"Black Women" provides an excellent resource on the lives and struggles of lesser known Black Women Abolitionists in addition to Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. Among the other Abolitionist are Anna Murray Douglass, Mary Ann Shad Cary, Sarah Parker Remond, Frances Harper, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Eliza Dixon Day and Sarah Forten. The author explores how race, sex and class came together to create a complex experience for these militant activists Some women, especially former slaves were motivated by their own experience to "devote their lives to the cause of freedom."
The author analyses this experience by showing that "economic circumstances, kinship and friendship ties, marriage and education led women toward personal definitions of their goal as activists." Yee also notes the secondary status of Blacks in the broader Abolition movement. In addition she documents the problems that these Black women had in the white feminist movement which "succumbed to racist fears and abandoned the possibility of forging a biracial feminist alliance."
Several common themes emerge from Black women's oral and written work: As Yee notes that "slavery was especially difficult for slave mothers who often saw their children taken away from them and their writings examined the breakup of the slave family and the sexual exploitation of slave women."
The contribution made by these Black women to full Emancipation becomes even more astonishing when one realizes that they found themselves caught between the sexism of the anti-slavery movement on one hand and the racism of the white women's movement.