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A Black Women's History of the United States

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A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are--and have always been--instrumental in shaping our country In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own commun A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are--and have always been--instrumental in shaping our country In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today. A Black Women's History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women's lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women's history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation.


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A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are--and have always been--instrumental in shaping our country In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own commun A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are--and have always been--instrumental in shaping our country In centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today. A Black Women's History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women's lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women's history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation.

30 review for A Black Women's History of the United States

  1. 5 out of 5

    emma

    The concept of “history” is so frustrating. I want to live in a world where this book, or a book like it, is a textbook for U.S. history classes. I want to not have to scream at the sky on a daily basis just because of how mind-bogglingly limited our sense of history is. I want to have grown up learning the stories of the women outlined here, instead of idealized versions of Christopher Columbus and pilgrims and the civil rights movement I would later have to unlearn. But alas. The information gat The concept of “history” is so frustrating. I want to live in a world where this book, or a book like it, is a textbook for U.S. history classes. I want to not have to scream at the sky on a daily basis just because of how mind-bogglingly limited our sense of history is. I want to have grown up learning the stories of the women outlined here, instead of idealized versions of Christopher Columbus and pilgrims and the civil rights movement I would later have to unlearn. But alas. The information gathered here is incredible and fascinating, but this is a tough book. One, it’s very very very academic and dry, and I’m a baby who hasn’t been in a history class in upwards of four years so that was tough to adjust to. Two, it is riddled with lots of little errors (of the grammatical variety) and a few bigger ones (of the historical type). The most egregious that I noticed is that the summary of the Dred Scott case, a pivotal moment both in history and in this book, is factually inaccurate. The ultimate March 1857 decision was not made by the Missouri Supreme Court (as it says twice in these pages), but by the US Supreme Court, which is why it’s considered one of the biggest failings of the judicial branch in the entire existence of this country. I won’t pretend that I’m anywhere close to an expert in United States history, especially when it comes to Black women specifically, so the fact that I picked up on an error made me wary of the truthfulness of the other information. Which was a bummer. Bottom line: I want there to be eight thousand million jillion books like this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    I love this kind of history whose project is to challenge conventional, high level narratives of histories by showing where counter examples problematize the "official party line" of how the past unfolded. This book does that beautifully by showing that Black women have always been in the story of the United States, even when official records purposefully or incidentally elide or exclude them. This is such a reminder that Black women who have sought out "good trouble" throughout US history reall I love this kind of history whose project is to challenge conventional, high level narratives of histories by showing where counter examples problematize the "official party line" of how the past unfolded. This book does that beautifully by showing that Black women have always been in the story of the United States, even when official records purposefully or incidentally elide or exclude them. This is such a reminder that Black women who have sought out "good trouble" throughout US history really are the embodiment of what Americans SAY the American spirit is all about. Their treatment, however, is also a reminder of the US's failure to fully live up to its stated ideals with any regularity

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica - How Jessica Reads

    I read this whole thing today, and it was fascinating! It's shocking how much of black women's history isn't covered in mainstream history curriculum. ETA, here's my full review. I read this whole thing today, and it was fascinating! It's shocking how much of black women's history isn't covered in mainstream history curriculum. ETA, here's my full review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    what a completely devastating but thoroughly inspiring book! this should be required reading for anyone living in the united states. african-american women have indisputably shaped this country yet their hard work and sacrifices have been grossly underappreciated for the last four hundred years. each chapter of this book opens with a vignette of a bold woman–from isabel de olvera seeking safe passage in the year 1600 to millie and christine mckoy, conjoined twins, who were exploited and mistreat what a completely devastating but thoroughly inspiring book! this should be required reading for anyone living in the united states. african-american women have indisputably shaped this country yet their hard work and sacrifices have been grossly underappreciated for the last four hundred years. each chapter of this book opens with a vignette of a bold woman–from isabel de olvera seeking safe passage in the year 1600 to millie and christine mckoy, conjoined twins, who were exploited and mistreated for much of their life to shirley chisolm, the first african-american woman to serve in congress–who chose to risk life and limb and liberty to move their country forward. there were so many women featured in this book that i had never heard of despite their incredible acts of bravery, like the 30-odd teenage girls who were kept in a stockade for SIX WEEKS for protesting segregation in 1963. one of the many great things about this work is that so many voices are part of this history: explorers, enslaved people, mothers, daughters, queer people, nonbinary people, artists, activists, religious people, and so many more. this book has inspired me to continue supporting and being in ally to african-american women because that is the very least i can do to show my gratitude for the incredibly work they have done for centuries now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lily Herman

    There have been a lot of important conversations recently about anti-racism books for Americans at large (particularly ones that White people need to read), and I'm so glad that A Black Women's History of the United States has appeared in those discussions time and time again. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross have put together a viscerally painful, in-depth, infuriating, and spectacular look at the many struggles and triumphs of Black women throughout American history. I appreciated how cl There have been a lot of important conversations recently about anti-racism books for Americans at large (particularly ones that White people need to read), and I'm so glad that A Black Women's History of the United States has appeared in those discussions time and time again. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross have put together a viscerally painful, in-depth, infuriating, and spectacular look at the many struggles and triumphs of Black women throughout American history. I appreciated how clear they were in their objective from the get-go: There's no way to tell every story in a single book (especially given how many Black women were erased from our nation's records), but there are many individual and universal themes we can pick up on by examining different women's lives from the late 1500s to the present day. Berry and Gross are also incredibly clear that A Black Women's History to the United States is meant to be an introductory primer, not a conclusive anthology. I will absolutely heed their call to continue learning and replacing this country's ultra-problematic and reductive history education with a more intersectional and inclusive one.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This was a really good book for what it was—a survey of Black women's roles throughout 400 plus years of North American history—but the relatively small 219 page count just wasn't enough space to really get into the sorts of details I really love when reading about history. I don't think we can discount the impact of the purpose of the book, though, since its entire aim is to place Black women back into the historical record, and it very much succeeds in that goal. The book is also a hybrid creat This was a really good book for what it was—a survey of Black women's roles throughout 400 plus years of North American history—but the relatively small 219 page count just wasn't enough space to really get into the sorts of details I really love when reading about history. I don't think we can discount the impact of the purpose of the book, though, since its entire aim is to place Black women back into the historical record, and it very much succeeds in that goal. The book is also a hybrid creation of historical scholarship and popular writing, as the authors plainly state in their introduction that they wanted the book to be accessible, even approachable, by the general public. Honestly, I'm not quite sure they succeeded in that second aim. I don't think anyone who doesn't already like reading about history will much enjoy this as it's pretty dryly written, and especially in the first half when historical details are less plentiful, the authors use a lot of generalizations. (By this I mean, they make well-educated guesses based on the historical evidence they have, it's just there isn't very much of it to work with.) Basically, this book was very informative and will be very helpful going forward as a way to place Black women in more historically active narratives, but I wanted more detail and less of a general survey feel, which was not this book's aim. Each chapter is structured around a particular era of history, and named after an individual woman, but again this is sort of misleading. The chapter on Shirley Chisholm, for example, features about a page and a half, maybe two of Shirley Chisholm, and about twenty pages of a bunch of other Black women we only meet very briefly. I think it would have been helpful for me to know going in that I wouldn't be getting a deep dive on any particular woman or era out of this book. The perspective the authors bring from telling the familiar (aka white) stories of historical eras from this new perspective was really interesting, and in most cases, quite damning. For example, in just one act of fuckery, infamous explorer Francis Drake once marooned a pregnant Black woman on an island with two Black men because she was pregnant after his crew (and possibly himself) had gang-raped her. But the authors don't just aim to illuminate all the bad things that happened to Black women throughout history, they also aim to chronicle Black women as movers and makers of history, and key drivers of progress. If anything, I felt the book was often missing the middle of the road perspective between those two extremes. The book is also full of small details I'd never learned before, like that Black women were sometimes slaveholders themselves, but mostly they did so in order to keep their families together when some members were free and some were still enslaved. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you like history, or have an interest in Black women's history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    «Tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of African people were unceremoniously tossed into watery graves. There, in the rough waters of the Atlantic, the bones of African people—known only by their assigned number, if even that—still remain on the ocean floor.» Free review copy from Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross state at the Author's Note of A Black Women's History of the «Tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of African people were unceremoniously tossed into watery graves. There, in the rough waters of the Atlantic, the bones of African people—known only by their assigned number, if even that—still remain on the ocean floor.» Free review copy from Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross state at the Author's Note of A Black Women's History of the United States that «as much as possible, we chose to include the words of Black women themselves. We did so not only to have Black women's voices play a central role in the book but also because we fundamentally believe that what these voices tell us is crucial for understanding history and for using that history to help us navigate the challenges of today». They also point out that this is a book written by Black Women to Black Women and their allies, so, what a Spanish white woman could learn about this thoroughly inspiring book?: She could continue learning about silenced women's experiences that shaped the United States' history and to unlearn plenty of fixed historiographical information that shapes her cultural view of the world. I discovered the ReVisioning American History series about a year ago when I read An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States , in its Spanish translation by Capitan Swing independent publishing house, and at that time I already knew I wanted to continue reading the series as soon as I could. The entire series challenge traditional (white/eurocentric) narratives, but in this case, the authors also decided to challenge the fixed chronological periods of US history, and they open each chapter of the book giving voice to different African-American women from early seventeenth-century to our times. «Starting with the seventeenth century, we learn of more women of African descent who were forcibly moved to the New World. They were unwilling victims of genocide in the largest forced migration in history: the transatlantic slave trade.» Although with an easy to follow language, some of the passages were disturbing and not the easiest to read –as the history of slavery and racism is–, but also captivating, provoking and inspiring, as they expose the difficulties black women endured (and still do), but also their incredibly strength to overcome them. Besides, the authors did a great job of being inclusive with LGBTQ+ experiences, and I especially liked this title is meant to be an overview of many voices (explorers, enslaved people, artists, mothers, activists…) and it is not only focused on famous African-American women throughout history. In short, A Black Women's History of the United States makes you crave for more in-depth biographies of these women. If you're interested in deconstructing the single story, you should read this book. Completely recommended. «Pauli Murray […] perhaps comes closest to getting at the stifling ways that racism encapsulated African American women’s lives noting that "was the atmosphere one breathed from day to day, the pervasive irritant, the chronic allergy, the vague apprehension which made one uncomfortable and jumpy. We knew the race problem was like a deadly snake coiled and ready to strike, and that one avoided its dangers only by never-ending watchfulness."» - - - - Fills into the Reading Women Challenge (6) A Nonfiction Title by a Woman Historian.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Sublime. I wish that I could adequately describe the joy that reading this book made me feel. It held space for me, my mother, my sister, my niece, my cousin, my grandmother and all of the ancestors - it is evidence that we were here and hope that we will continue leading the way. I am in awe of the personal sacrifice and scholarly commitment that was required by Dr. Daina Ramey Berry and Dr. Kali Nicole Gross to complete this work. They gave value and meaning to the lives of Black women silence Sublime. I wish that I could adequately describe the joy that reading this book made me feel. It held space for me, my mother, my sister, my niece, my cousin, my grandmother and all of the ancestors - it is evidence that we were here and hope that we will continue leading the way. I am in awe of the personal sacrifice and scholarly commitment that was required by Dr. Daina Ramey Berry and Dr. Kali Nicole Gross to complete this work. They gave value and meaning to the lives of Black women silenced in the archives and forgotten by history. I sincerely appreciate that this book was not just an account of the Black woman version of that famous Black or white man you know well and instead this book intentionally centered Black women. I wish I had this work when I was teenager though I am so glad to carry these stories with me from now on. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    reading is my hustle

    i have become more of a history enthusiast in past years. the more you read about history the more you understand that there is no single narrative about any time period. how could there be? still, it is what we are taught during our early education. this book recognizes the determination of black women who were important to the development of the US: activists, artists, spiritual leaders, midwives, & other trailblazers. i was completely absorbed while reading about the complexity of their lives i have become more of a history enthusiast in past years. the more you read about history the more you understand that there is no single narrative about any time period. how could there be? still, it is what we are taught during our early education. this book recognizes the determination of black women who were important to the development of the US: activists, artists, spiritual leaders, midwives, & other trailblazers. i was completely absorbed while reading about the complexity of their lives. read this if you are at all interested in understanding the beginnings of the systemic racism that continues to be endemic in the US.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    A broad overview of North American history centering Black women, who acted with agency through the centuries, and were not just acted upon as enslaved people. The authors show how women shaped our country in otherwise unacknowledged ways, despite ongoing systemic racism and sexism. Highly recommend for an introduction to periods throughout our continent’s history and the significant women to each. A springboard for deeper studies.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alexis (TheSlothReader)

    A really in depth look at some famous and unheard of black women throughout American history. It covers all kind of black women: trans black women, queer black women, and disabled black women. They authors do a really good job of looking at historical documents and then using those to show the perspectives, realities, and injustices faced by black women throughout Anerican history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    The book starts a little weak, but gains strength as it goes along. This may be in part because I generally don't care for this style of writing--anecdotal evidence being used as proof. As the story progresses, I was better able to fix the story in my own understanding of the setting/situation, so the lack of evidence became less of an issue. Still a pretty good book. The book starts a little weak, but gains strength as it goes along. This may be in part because I generally don't care for this style of writing--anecdotal evidence being used as proof. As the story progresses, I was better able to fix the story in my own understanding of the setting/situation, so the lack of evidence became less of an issue. Still a pretty good book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeida K. Storey

    Wow. I have never been more moved, empowered, and humbled as a Black woman than I am in this very moment. Every one of these pages breathed life, inspiration, pride...but also told of the devastation and pain Black women have faced in this country. Drs. Berry and Gross took special care to center Black women (FINALLY!) in American history, some of whom I have known about and revered for years, but many I was acquainted with for the first time. Our history is rich and powerful and gritty and raw. Wow. I have never been more moved, empowered, and humbled as a Black woman than I am in this very moment. Every one of these pages breathed life, inspiration, pride...but also told of the devastation and pain Black women have faced in this country. Drs. Berry and Gross took special care to center Black women (FINALLY!) in American history, some of whom I have known about and revered for years, but many I was acquainted with for the first time. Our history is rich and powerful and gritty and raw. Our ancestors were mighty and courageous and nurturing and intelligent and strategic. To share bloodlines and legacy with them truly brings tears to my eyes. What an incredible read that I will revisit over and over again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    Loved the concept and this made for a great primer in looking at some of US history through a black, female lens. Quite surface level, but that's to be expected with such a broad topic. I appreciated that there were some names and events I hadn't previously been aware of, and though the writing was a bit dense at times, overall it was a quite smooth read. Loved the concept and this made for a great primer in looking at some of US history through a black, female lens. Quite surface level, but that's to be expected with such a broad topic. I appreciated that there were some names and events I hadn't previously been aware of, and though the writing was a bit dense at times, overall it was a quite smooth read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Calarco

    True to its title, A Black Women's History of the United States is a great resource on the subject-matter. Truthfully, I picked up this copy for a work-related book club, and am now actually using it a source for other work projects centering on American history and gender equity. Truly, it's a solid piece of research. Perhaps my favorite element of this book, is how it tackles early history of black women in the United States. Popular historical literature tends to be sparse when it comes to eth True to its title, A Black Women's History of the United States is a great resource on the subject-matter. Truthfully, I picked up this copy for a work-related book club, and am now actually using it a source for other work projects centering on American history and gender equity. Truly, it's a solid piece of research. Perhaps my favorite element of this book, is how it tackles early history of black women in the United States. Popular historical literature tends to be sparse when it comes to ethnic minorities in general prior to the 1800s, and I have seen this all too often used as an excuse by a number of historical sites to exclude or brush over critical histories. What Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross do exceptionally well, can be seen with their analysis of early black women’s stories in America. In the face of sparse archival information, when forming narrative history the two fill-in the blanks, so-to-speak, with really good questions. This is by no means to be confused with bold speculations. Rather, after providing factually-based context, the two then expand the conversation of different individual’s experiences with questions geared towards building understanding and challenging pre-existing narratives derived from, in some cases, the same evidence. This is a really solid read; my only critique would be that I wish they wrote more. Each chapter evaluates a time period, and centers its narrative around (at least) one woman’s experience during that time period. There is a great deal that can be learned from these stories, both for historical knowledge, as well as general life lessons. This book definitely has my recommendation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    thedailydiva

    This needs to be recommended reading in high schools across this country! But we know it will not! Not yet at least! We are still fighting... • Black Women have been an integral thread in the fabric of America for a long long time. Longer than before we were forcibly brought to these shores. We have shaped this country with our voices, our minds, our hands, our entire bodies. • Reading this well put together historical text, broke me and encouraged me. What Black Women have suffered and endured an This needs to be recommended reading in high schools across this country! But we know it will not! Not yet at least! We are still fighting... • Black Women have been an integral thread in the fabric of America for a long long time. Longer than before we were forcibly brought to these shores. We have shaped this country with our voices, our minds, our hands, our entire bodies. • Reading this well put together historical text, broke me and encouraged me. What Black Women have suffered and endured and moreover ACCOMPLISHED in and for this Country is staggering. It hurts me to relive my foremothers histories; they are often always steeped in pain and injustice. But I’m emboldened by what we accomplish, in spite of. • The Authors gave a historical account of Black Women’s history and achievements from 1619 to present day! And I’ve committed to memory some new names and stories. Black Women I never knew but love now. Some only a blip in history, and only important because of some transgression they were accused of. Some only a description, no name, no story. I couldn’t help, with my vivid imagination dreaming of who they were, and what their lives were like. • What I especially enjoyed were the voices of each of these women. Some, as I said, just accounts written by slave holders or lawyers(about property), and some, their own words. I felt connected to each vignette and life. It was endearing and so incredibly sad. • This book will forever remain on my shelf, for reference and I will go back and read the other volumes in their Revisioning American History Series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    Daina Ramey Berry wrote a book that is both inspiring and brutal. Thoroughly researched, this one is an intensive and detailed overview of the lives of black women in the USA. Easy to read, this one will teach you things you didn't know even if you have previously studied the subject. Each chapter centers itself on a real woman and what she did with her life. Sojourner Truth, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks among many others. Some of these women's names are well-known. Others not at all. At one Daina Ramey Berry wrote a book that is both inspiring and brutal. Thoroughly researched, this one is an intensive and detailed overview of the lives of black women in the USA. Easy to read, this one will teach you things you didn't know even if you have previously studied the subject. Each chapter centers itself on a real woman and what she did with her life. Sojourner Truth, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks among many others. Some of these women's names are well-known. Others not at all. At one point early in the book I expected to give this one five stars. However, I found the last few chapters to be rushed. It felt like the author knew the book a sneeded to end but wanted to make sure and give credit to many more women. So it felt like a list of "names you should know." Still, the book is accessible, smart, and instructive. It is an important piece of history, and the author opened the conversation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Ballinger

    This was filled with many fascinating stories, but all too often they were too short. I wanted to learn so much more about these women. Part of this is the missing historical record of people who are not part of the dominant narrative. These women get no attention, as a line from the book says: "They may have glanced at her once, but they did not actually see her." This was filled with many fascinating stories, but all too often they were too short. I wanted to learn so much more about these women. Part of this is the missing historical record of people who are not part of the dominant narrative. These women get no attention, as a line from the book says: "They may have glanced at her once, but they did not actually see her."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Saniya

    trigger warnings: rape, assault, suicide, depression, murder, forced sterilization, sexism, homophobia, racism, violence Most of the triggers are mentioned in passing and not described in detail. The impact of these acts is definitely expounded on to explain how such events impacted history and the lives of the women and non binary people mentioned throughout the book. A heartbreaking yet inspiring account of Black women and gender non conforming people who changed the course of history in America trigger warnings: rape, assault, suicide, depression, murder, forced sterilization, sexism, homophobia, racism, violence Most of the triggers are mentioned in passing and not described in detail. The impact of these acts is definitely expounded on to explain how such events impacted history and the lives of the women and non binary people mentioned throughout the book. A heartbreaking yet inspiring account of Black women and gender non conforming people who changed the course of history in America. This was super informative and adds to the wealth of Black history I've been reading up on. This certainly fills out a lot of the holes in the historical accounts considering women and Black people are consistently left out due to their "lack of relevance" or whatever weak excuse there is. I did find that the book tended to focus more on the general history surrounding the women instead of detailed accounts of their lives and accomplishments but I think this book is meant more as a survey and a jumping point to start researching the names over a comprehensive guide of history itself. I really appreciated this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    An overview of the lives of black women in the US that is both easy to read (i.e. not in academic language) and disturbing. Even for a reader who has already made an effort to learn about the history of American racism, there were some new things here. I particularly liked the anchoring of each chapter on the actions of a real person (which made the one chapter with an obviously imaginary person stand out; since there were real people mentioned later in the chapter I don't know why they did this An overview of the lives of black women in the US that is both easy to read (i.e. not in academic language) and disturbing. Even for a reader who has already made an effort to learn about the history of American racism, there were some new things here. I particularly liked the anchoring of each chapter on the actions of a real person (which made the one chapter with an obviously imaginary person stand out; since there were real people mentioned later in the chapter I don't know why they did this as I feel it weakened the story). There were so many amazing women, I done think they needed to make up that one. I kept noticing the names of women I had heard of first through the songs of Bernice Reagon and Sweet Honey in the Rock - so a big hat tip to them for the education they have done for more than 40 years. Towards the end, the last part of the last chapter began to feel like a rushed laundry list of famous women being name checked. And the authors do not shy away from calling out sexism within the modern civil rights movement, which even now seems brave of them. I wish that people who need to know this information would read this book, but I imagine they will not. You can't fail to be both inspired and discouraged by the obstacles these women had to overcome. We as a country have not done well, but if you don't want to know the truth you won't seek out books like this even though you need to know.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    4.5 stars. I learned a lot and really appreciated the centering of the stories of Black women, especially when we'd heard about the events, but only knew about the men involved. And the discussions of both how white feminism has never addressed the needs and lives of Black women and how Black nationalism put Black women aside. 4.5 stars. I learned a lot and really appreciated the centering of the stories of Black women, especially when we'd heard about the events, but only knew about the men involved. And the discussions of both how white feminism has never addressed the needs and lives of Black women and how Black nationalism put Black women aside.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Em Hoggatt

    Learned a bunch! Would definitely recommend this to any history buffs.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    Make no mistake, the content in this book is five stars. The reason I'm going with a solid 3.5, rounded up, is that I think the limitations of the Revisioning History series format meant making some hard choices in content to bring it to a "marketable" page count, and the book suffered for those limitations. There were simply parts that felt like it had been drastically edited and the remaining text not smoothly woven back together, perhaps due to space constraints. There is no fault here except Make no mistake, the content in this book is five stars. The reason I'm going with a solid 3.5, rounded up, is that I think the limitations of the Revisioning History series format meant making some hard choices in content to bring it to a "marketable" page count, and the book suffered for those limitations. There were simply parts that felt like it had been drastically edited and the remaining text not smoothly woven back together, perhaps due to space constraints. There is no fault here except with a reading market that is reluctant to read history to begin with and balks at any non-fiction book that's over 300 pages and not a celebrity memoir. The authors did a great job covering a lot of ground and time. Because so many early American women's lives, especially those of Black women, were not deemed worthy of documentation when they lived, the author's had to tread that fine line between the known and the speculated when telling their stories. They did a remarkable job of clearly showing what, by necessity, has to be gleaned from non-primary source materials and what few hard facts were known, and they managed to do it without making the reader go back and forth between footnotes and the main text. Obviously, their job got a little easier -- as least the documentation part of it -- as they moved forward in time. It is a fascinating read about lives too-often not included in our history books. I'm looking forward to reading the remaining three books in the Revisioning series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Misty DeRosier

    My U.S. history classes in high school and college left so much of the story out. If yours did too, this book is for you! Beginning in the 1600’s each chapter tells what was going on for Black women in the U.S. at that time. I particularly liked how each chapter is framed by the story of an individual woman using primary sources. Speaking of primary sources, this book is filled with them. Did you know that many colonial Black women preferred to (and did all they could to be able to) give birth i My U.S. history classes in high school and college left so much of the story out. If yours did too, this book is for you! Beginning in the 1600’s each chapter tells what was going on for Black women in the U.S. at that time. I particularly liked how each chapter is framed by the story of an individual woman using primary sources. Speaking of primary sources, this book is filled with them. Did you know that many colonial Black women preferred to (and did all they could to be able to) give birth in British occupied territories over U. S. territories? Did you know that Dred Scott was not the only plaintiff in the Dred Scott case? I didn’t. I learned those things and so much more in this book. If you are at all interested in U. S. history I recommend this book. If you are not interested in history but live in the U.S., I recommend this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    In a perfect world, this would be text for a history class. I must admit though, I’d have liked more modern history... it’s fascinating to consider the connections between the past of America’s woc, and the present

  27. 5 out of 5

    Grace Mc

    This is an absolutely excellent book - it has helped me revise my African-American History exam list and I would recommend it to anyone teaching African-American history or Black Women’s history more specifically.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    A fantastic history. I would love even more specialized studies, of disabled black women, of LGBTQ+ black women, but the writers did a great job of being inclusive.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beverlee

    It's not an everyday act to read a book that is inspiring and informative. A Black Women's History of the United States is not a summary of the lives of well-known women who are given cursory mention in a textbook, it is a concise and surprisingly thorough explanation of how Black women have always been role players in shaping the history of the United States, their communities, and their families. History is usually presented solely from the viewpoint of who won a war of physical strength, wits It's not an everyday act to read a book that is inspiring and informative. A Black Women's History of the United States is not a summary of the lives of well-known women who are given cursory mention in a textbook, it is a concise and surprisingly thorough explanation of how Black women have always been role players in shaping the history of the United States, their communities, and their families. History is usually presented solely from the viewpoint of who won a war of physical strength, wits, words or some combination of all of the above. What I really admire about this book is the inclusion of lesser known Black women in every chapter as an example of who Black women are: intelligent, strong, loving. This book is an acknowledgment of trials and injustices Black women have lived through, a celebration of Black women's many achievements, a recognition of our humanity. Just so you know: Chapter 1- Isabel de Olvera, a woman of African descent, traveled across New Spain as part of Juan de Onate's expedition. She petitioned to the court to protect her rights before joining the trip. Chapter 3-Belinda Sutton filed suit in the Massachusetts General Court in 1783 for her freedom. Her enslaver died in England after fleeing the United States during the Revolution. Ms. Sutton knew that her freedom and a pension was guaranteed upon his death-and she won. Chapter 4- A consideration when thinking about family structure should be "Black families were as stable as they could be during an era when the separation of families reigned supreme. Those who were enslaved followed the status of the mother...paternal lineage was not always recognized or acknowledged. Thus when one makes judgments about Black families in the twentieth century that essentially blame Black dysfunctionality on Black women, it is clear the centuries of enslavement have not been considered" (74). Chapter 6- Frances Thompson, a survivor of a brutal sexual assault by a group of white men during the 1866 Memphis Riot and continued harassment after the fact, was arrested for lewdness and suspicion of being a man (in 1876). After being subjected to an invasive exam, it was discovered that Frances was biologically a man. While incarcerated, she was housed with men and subjected to constant humiliation. Chapter 8- completely subjective comment, but one of my favorite all-time books, The Street by Ann Petry is mentioned along with Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Alice Coachman was the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in 1948 (track and field high jump). Chapter 9-what I found compelling was how the authors explained Black Power as a next step in the Civil Rights Movement, not necessarily a separate component. An example is Gloria Richardson and the Cambridge Movement, "keenly aware of the role of poverty in maintaining racism and power structures that kept Black people down, Richardson mixed calls for civil rights with income equity, as well as exhibiting a growing affinity for self-defense. The economic evolution was in step with nonviolent civil rights stalwarts such as Martin Luther King Jr.; whose own activities increasingly spotlighted poverty and the need to eradicate it in American society. At the same time, Richardson's embrace of self-defense mirrored and informed the Black Nationalist ideologies espoused by Malcolm X" (183). I can go on probably forever, but this powerful history introduces Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Nina Simone, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisholm, Mary Church Terrell, Ida Wells-Barnett, Anna Julia Cooper, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Maggie Lena Walker, and countless others. One thing I can be sure of is this is required reading (and also part of series in looking at the histories of groups of people that are often ignored in teaching US History). "All told, Black women's history in the United States is broad, beautiful, exciting, haunting, and crucial to understanding the nation. It is a testament to the intellectual richness and vitality of Black women. This history also holds the country accountable for its still unmet promise to make democracy serve all, equally" (8).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    "...because in just about every battle that Black women have undertaken in the United States, every barrier that they have shattered, and every first accomplishment they have secured, their actions have paved the way not just for other Black women but for all marginalized peoples. Even against their will, Black women's bodies, knowledge, labor, and offspring have helped develop the country and contributed to its wealth, which laid the foundation for the colonies' move toward independence." This "...because in just about every battle that Black women have undertaken in the United States, every barrier that they have shattered, and every first accomplishment they have secured, their actions have paved the way not just for other Black women but for all marginalized peoples. Even against their will, Black women's bodies, knowledge, labor, and offspring have helped develop the country and contributed to its wealth, which laid the foundation for the colonies' move toward independence." This book is the fifth in the ReVisioning American History series but it is the first one I've read. If this is representative of the series as a whole, I'm going to work my way through the other four histories (Queer, Disability, Indigenous Peoples, African American and Latinx). While the writing is über academic (think peer-reviewed, university textbook-ish), that does not get in the way of the amount of information that is stunning, shocking, fascinating, and unfamiliar (at least to this reader). While there were some women who I was familiar with by name, this book unearthed things I never knew about them. I am fairly well-read (as a grown person who hasn't been in school in quite some time), but I can tell you that I definitely didn't learn a lot of this in school. As the eras became more modern, I found myself in more familiar territory but still well out of my "knowledge zone." For clarification, I am not stunned or surprised that this history has been ignored and/or erased as I fully believe we've in a systemically racist, sexist, classist, and homophobic society.

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