Black Women and Politics in New York City

Black Women and Politics in New York City

Julie A. Gallagher
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcgp0
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    Black Women and Politics in New York City
    Book Description:

    In this essential contribution to twentieth-century political history, Julie A. Gallagher documents six decades of politically active black women in New York City who waged struggles for justice, rights, and equality not through grassroots activism but through formal politics._x000B__x000B_In tracing the paths of black women activists from women's clubs and civic organizations to national politics--including appointments to presidential commissions, congressional offices, and even a presidential candidacy--Gallagher also articulates the vision of politics the women developed and its influence on the Democratic party and its policies. Deftly examining how race, gender, and the structure of the state itself shape outcomes, she exposes the layers of power and discrimination at work in all sectors of U.S. society. _x000B__x000B_Taking a long historical view across the twentieth century, Black Women and Politics in New York City is arranged chronologically, beginning with the fight for suffrage and rights in the first two decades of the century and moving through strides made and political opportunities seized during the Great Depression, the World War II era, resistance in the 1950s, and feminism and civil rights in the 1960s and 1970s. Gallagher examines the career of political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first to run for president on a national party ticket, with extensive attention to the efforts of generations of politically active black women who came before her._x000B__x000B_Gallagher's study of African American women in New York City politics adds to the growing body of scholarship on the civil rights struggle and revises twentieth-century women's history, particularly feminist activism, to include African American women who hitherto have been excluded from the narrative. Sensitively and insightfully offering revision and expansion of the accepted interpretations of black feminism to include liberal reformers, Gallagher draws on an impressive array of sources to highlight the struggles black women waged through formal politics for themselves, their communities, and broader ideals of equality.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09410-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    “I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the Women’s Movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. . . . I am the candidate of the people and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history,” Shirley Chisholm declared to an enthusiastic crowd at Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church on January 25, 1972.¹ The first black...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Fighting for Rights in the 1910s and 1920s
    (pp. 11-45)

    “I could see only one way to freedom—nationalism. Although the word ‘nationalism’ was not in my vocabulary, I knew that somehow the great talent and spirit of Negroes must be developed into a unified voice to demand not alms, but its birthright. This was my mood as I joined the professional staff of the Harlem YWCA,” asserted Anna Arnold Hedgeman, a lifelong human rights and civil rights advocate, as she reflected on her migration to New York in the 1920s. “Cecelia Cabaniss Saunders, my new executive, talked to me of the movement of Negroes from many parts of the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Strides Forward in Times of Crisis in the 1930s and 1940s
    (pp. 46-86)

    “The attitude of the public toward the woman in the professions,” Ruth Whitehead Whaley explained in a 1931 interview with theAfro-American, “is still inimical. It puts her on the defensive. Men get the notion that because she has more freedom than the woman who makes her home her career, she is just as free in her morals. There are many things that the professional woman has to endure.” She went on: “If she is serious, people say she is masculine; if she is natural, they accuse her of trading on her sex, and so it goes, she is put...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Pushing Through the Doors of Resistance in the 1950s
    (pp. 87-120)

    “Women form the majority of voters in Harlem, and it is time they took a stand in the political affairs of the community,” Bessie Buchanan declared in July 1954.¹ At the time of her pronouncement, Buchanan was the Democratic Party candidate for the twelfth district of the New York State Assembly located in the Harlem section of Manhattan. As she spoke, she echoed the sentiments of two prior generations of African American women who had fought for a foothold in electoral politics. The time had come indeed, because in the wake of the May 1954Brown v. Board of Education...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. CHAPTER FOUR Feminism, Civil Rights, and Liberalism in the 1960s
    (pp. 121-156)

    “I look back on this experience [the President’s Commission on the Status of Women] as an intensive consciousness-raising process leading directly to my involvement in the new women’s movement that surfaced a few years later. . . . [U]pwards of two hundred able women (and a number of sympathetic men) from many professions and from all sections of the country were brought together . . . and out of these associations developed a new strength and increasing pride in being a woman. An important by-product of the Commission’s existence was that like-minded women found one another, bonds developed through working...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE On the Shirley Chisholm Trail in the 1960s and 1970s
    (pp. 157-190)

    When the Ninety-first Congress convened in January 1969, the Democratic caucus gathered to approve the committee assignments for the new session. Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn, the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives, found her committee assignment unacceptable, and she stood up to protest.

    Every time I rose, two or three men jumped up. . . . Men were smiling and nudging each other as I stood there trying to get the floor. After six or seven attempts, I walked down an aisle to the “well,” the open space between the front row of seats and the Speaker’s...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-200)

    In her autobiography,The Good Fight, which documents her run for the nation’s highest office, Shirley Chisholm poignantly recounted the speech she gave at the Democratic National Convention in July 1972. “What I said that night was that most people had thought I would never stand there, in that place, but there I was. All the odds had been against it, right up to the end,” she wrote. “I never blamed anyone for doubting. The Presidency is for white males. No one was ready to take a black woman seriously as a candidate. It was not time yet for a...

  12. Appendix African American Women’s Campaigns for Elected Office, 1919-1972
    (pp. 201-204)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 205-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-249)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 250-254)