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Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement

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Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality. In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coord Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality. In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who took on segregation in the Democratic party (and won), and Septima Clark, who created a network of "Citizenship Schools" to teach poor Black men and women to read and write and help them to register to vote. We learn of Black women's activism in the Black Panther Party where they fought the police, as well as the entrenched male leadership, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where the behind-the-scenes work of women kept the organization afloat when it was under siege. It also includes first-person testimonials from the women who made headlines with their courageous resistance to segregation--Rosa Parks, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and Dorothy Height. This collection represents the coming of age of African-American women's history and presents new stories that point the way to future study. Contributors: Bettye Collier-Thomas, Vicki Crawford, Cynthia Griggs Fleming, V. P. Franklin, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Duchess Harris, Sharon Harley, Dorothy I. Height, Chana Kai Lee, Tracye Matthews, Genna Rae McNeil, Rosa Parks, Barbara Ransby, Jacqueline A. Rouse, Elaine Moore Smith, and Linda Faye Williams.


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Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality. In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coord Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality. In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who took on segregation in the Democratic party (and won), and Septima Clark, who created a network of "Citizenship Schools" to teach poor Black men and women to read and write and help them to register to vote. We learn of Black women's activism in the Black Panther Party where they fought the police, as well as the entrenched male leadership, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where the behind-the-scenes work of women kept the organization afloat when it was under siege. It also includes first-person testimonials from the women who made headlines with their courageous resistance to segregation--Rosa Parks, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and Dorothy Height. This collection represents the coming of age of African-American women's history and presents new stories that point the way to future study. Contributors: Bettye Collier-Thomas, Vicki Crawford, Cynthia Griggs Fleming, V. P. Franklin, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Duchess Harris, Sharon Harley, Dorothy I. Height, Chana Kai Lee, Tracye Matthews, Genna Rae McNeil, Rosa Parks, Barbara Ransby, Jacqueline A. Rouse, Elaine Moore Smith, and Linda Faye Williams.

30 review for Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tinea

    This anthology was a great chronological account of African American women's participation in US movements for racial justice. It goes from the social club days of the 1930s into electoral politics of the 1990s. The best essays focused on one individual and her organizing strategy. They illuminated the moment in history that the women lived, exploring the context that shaped their politics. They examined those politics in depth. Finally, these essays took seriously the emotional and interpersonal This anthology was a great chronological account of African American women's participation in US movements for racial justice. It goes from the social club days of the 1930s into electoral politics of the 1990s. The best essays focused on one individual and her organizing strategy. They illuminated the moment in history that the women lived, exploring the context that shaped their politics. They examined those politics in depth. Finally, these essays took seriously the emotional and interpersonal experiences of the women they profiled. These essays definitely are worth study by activists today: do these methods still resonate? In what ways were they effective and ineffective? How can they be applied in different contexts? The essays on and the methods of Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Septima Clark stood out. Each had a different version of a shared organizing vision: grassroots, community organizing that valued individual experiences and stayed sharply focused on material needs. Really good stuff and phenomenal heroes. As the book gets further along in history, the individual stories are replaced by broader analysis of gender's role within the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Individual struggles and voices are replaced by surveys of (anti-)sexism in the writing of Malcolm X and in the Black Panther Party. Basically, Sisters in the Struggle stops showing and starts telling. Participants' experiences, their oppressions outside and within the movement, and the strategic decisions they make to navigate these different obstacles, in short, all the human elements that made the first half of this book so compelling, are swallowed by statistics and academic language.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Iejones

    I suppose anyone familiar with my selections knows I LOVE history and women. This is a great collection of essays about African American women involved in the Civil Rights movement. I am using it for a class, however, in re-reading these essays - the struggle for African American equality has been steeped in the personal sacrifice of so many people who often are relegated to the periphery of history. This work locates some of those persons and gives them voice and substance - a must read for any I suppose anyone familiar with my selections knows I LOVE history and women. This is a great collection of essays about African American women involved in the Civil Rights movement. I am using it for a class, however, in re-reading these essays - the struggle for African American equality has been steeped in the personal sacrifice of so many people who often are relegated to the periphery of history. This work locates some of those persons and gives them voice and substance - a must read for any person interested in human justice

  3. 4 out of 5

    Niamh Bewick

    I used this book for the first latter of my A Level History coursework, very informative.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Rey

    Fun fact: I was recommended this gem after I complained to my department head (remember, grad school dropout 😂) about there not being a big enough presence of African American women in our African American Studies department 🥴. “Sisters in the Struggle” talks about the impact African American women had on and inside of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. It’s heartbreaking to learn about how much they were mocked, discouraged, and had their voices repressed by their male comrades and lead Fun fact: I was recommended this gem after I complained to my department head (remember, grad school dropout 😂) about there not being a big enough presence of African American women in our African American Studies department 🥴. “Sisters in the Struggle” talks about the impact African American women had on and inside of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. It’s heartbreaking to learn about how much they were mocked, discouraged, and had their voices repressed by their male comrades and leaders. Forced to fight against racism and sexism at the same damn time, but nevertheless, they persisted.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leif Kurth

    Wonderful telling about the Women of Color who were so instrumental in the movements and communities that helped shape the 20th century. Our nation is a better, more perfect society because of their work. While we still have a long way to go, without their acts, their words, their deeds, and their examples, the road ahead would be much longer and more dangerous.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amber Nickell

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle Rosario

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ashlee Brand

  10. 5 out of 5

    AYANA LEWIS

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicollette Buckle

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tati Cosper

  14. 5 out of 5

    ViSaEd

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacara Brown

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samara

  17. 5 out of 5

    Billy Ferrara

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Young

  19. 5 out of 5

    Efia

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

  22. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yunis Esa

    Great collection of stories of women that truly were pillars of the civil rights movement

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dcm135

  25. 5 out of 5

    Haze

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shane

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Hunter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lillie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Miller

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin P.

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