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Race Reform

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Lecture

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Race Reform

  1. 1. Black Women and Reform
  2. 2. Answer one of the following • In your view, to what extent did Ida B. Wells accept the dominant gender ideology of her time? To what extent did she critique it? • In the “The Great White Mother,” Margaret Jacobs argues that the maternalism practiced by women reformers on the East Coast in dealing with poor, working-class women looked very different from the maternalism practiced by reformers in the US West who dealt with Native Americans. Explain how/why the latter was so much more objectionable.
  3. 3. Racism in the late 19th century • Failure of Reconstruction (1877) – Rise of the Ku Klux Klan – Systematic disfranchisement • Poll taxes, voter intimidation, etc. • Rise of lynching • Civil Rights Cases (1883) – Invalidated most of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – Upholds constitutionality of segregation
  4. 4. National Association of Colored Women, 1896 “Lifting as We Climb”
  5. 5. Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842- 1924) • Grew up in Boston • Graduated from Bowdoin College • Helped form the American Woman Suffrage Association • Published the Woman’s Era, first paper directed toward African-American women
  6. 6. Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) • Grew up in Memphis, daughter of former slaves – Father became a wealthy businessman • Attended Oberlin • Studied in Europe • Also active in the American Woman Suffrage Association
  7. 7. “Progress of Colored Women” (1898) “Consider if you will, the almost insurmountable obstacles which have confronted colored women in their efforts to educate and cultivate themselves since their emancipation…. not only are colored women with ambition and aspiration handicapped on account of their sex, but they are everywhere baffled and mocked on account of their race. Desperately and continuously they are forced to fight that opposition, born of a cruel, unreasonable prejudice which neither their merit nor their necessity seems able to subdue. Not only because they are women, but because they are colored women, are discouragement and disappointment meeting them at every turn.”
  8. 8. NACW and maternalism • Less emphasis on government programs • Emphasis on “racial uplift” and solidarity • Greater cooperation with male reformers • Most black women reformers (like Terrell, Ruffin and Wells) were married • Less fixated on the idea of the “family wage” • Addressed a wider range of issues
  9. 9. Ida B. Wells
  10. 10. Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) • Parents and brother died when she was 14; became head of the household • Studied at Fisk • 1884: refused to yield her train seat to a white man; literally dragged from the train • 1891: a friend (grocery store owner) lynched – Wrote angry editorial: • “Nobody…believes the old threadbare lie that Negro men assault white women.” – Had to flee the South; newspaper office burned • 1892 Southern Horrors; 1895 Red Record
  11. 11. Southern Horrors • Refuted the idea that lynching was a form of punishment for rape. – Found that less than 30 percent of all lynching involved even the charge of rape • Wide-ranging critique of southern race relations in the South • Documented consensual sexual relations between white women and black men • Called attention to black women who were victims of sexual violence.
  12. 12. Ida B. Wells • How did she attack lynching? – Strategies of muckraking journalists: garnering facts; rhetorically powerful presentation – Took her case abroad: travels to Great Britain in 1893-94 • What does she urge blacks to do? – Leave the South – Understand their power as consumers – Arm themselves – Expose false accounts of lynching • Tensions with Terrell – More militant; more identified with the working classes; less concerned with ladylike refinement
  13. 13. Frances Willard (1839-1898) • Educator, temperance reformer – From a strong anti- slavery background • Attended Oberlin • Led the WCTU from 1879-98 – 1891: Pres. of the World WCTU
  14. 14. Temperance as a woman’s issue • WCTU (founded in 1874) largest women’s organization in the late 19th century – Attracted both black and white club women – Much bigger than the suffrage movement • Alcohol a symbol of male power – Linked to domestic violence, women’s economic vulnerability • Anti-immigrant strain to the temperance movement • Idea of the “home ballot” • After 1886 (under Willard’s leadership), the WCTU endorsed woman’s suffrage
  15. 15. Temperance poster, 1870s
  16. 16. Woman’s Temple Building, WCTU Headquarters, Chicago, ca. 1905
  17. 17. WCTU Pledge Card
  18. 18. WCTU and race • One of the first national organizations to do outreach to the black community – Department of Colored Work • Black women participated in northern and midwestern locals • Formed their own branches in the South • Willard had in fact denounced lynching – BUT she was also very interested in courting white southern women – 1890: WCTU for the first time held its annual meeting in the South (Atlanta, GA)
  19. 19. Wells v. Willard • Relation to the idea of female moral superiority – Willard wants to retain; Wells must challenge • Different attitudes toward men – Wells regards black men and women more as allies in a struggle, rather than adversaries • Rhetoric – Wells more factual than sentimental.

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