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A Black Women's History of the United States
Cover of A Black Women's History of the United States
A Black Women's History of the United States
2021 NAACP Image Award Nominee: Outstanding Literary Work – Non-FictionHonorable Mention for the 2021 Organization of American Historians Darlene Clark Hine AwardA vibrant and empowering history...
2021 NAACP Image Award Nominee: Outstanding Literary Work – Non-FictionHonorable Mention for the 2021 Organization of American Historians Darlene Clark Hine AwardA vibrant and empowering history...
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  • 2021 NAACP Image Award Nominee: Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction
    Honorable Mention for the 2021 Organization of American Historians Darlene Clark Hine Award
    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.

About the Author-

  • Daina Ramey Berry is the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History and associate dean of the Graduate School at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author or co-editor of several previous books, including The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, winner of the 2017 SHEAR Book Award for Early American History. Connect with her at drdainarameyberry.com or @DainaRameyBerry on Twitter.
    Kali Nicole Gross is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her previous books include Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, winner of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction. Learn more at kalinicolegross.com or connect with her on Twitter @KaliGrossPhD.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2019
    A compact, exceptionally diverse introduction to the history of black women in America, rooted in "everyday heroism." As Berry (History/Univ. of Texas; The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, From Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, 2017, etc.) and Gross (History/Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick; Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex and Violence in America, 2016, etc.) persuasively argue, black women have "significantly shaped" our nation--and fought for their rights--throughout every period of American history. Yet their contributions often have been overlooked or underappreciated. In the latest book in the publisher's ReVisioning American History series, the authors offer a selective but wide-ranging search-and-rescue mission for black female activists, trailblazers, and others who have left a mark. In the first chapter, they introduce Isabel de Olvera, who became one of the first black women to set foot on what is now American soil after joining an expedition from Mexico in the early 17th century. From there, Berry and Gross proceed chronologically, opening each chapter with a vignette about a signal figure such as Shirley Chisholm, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants who became the first black female member of Congress. Along the way, the authors frequently discuss members of traditionally underrepresented groups, among them the lesbian blues singer Gladys Bentley and the conjoined twins Millie and Christine McKoy, whose exploitation by mid-19th-century showmen suggests the perils faced by black women with disabilities. The result is a narrative that highlights both setbacks and achievements in many spheres--sports, business, education, the arts, military service, and more. While their overall approach is celebratory, Berry and Gross also deal frankly with morally complex topics, such as women who committed infanticide rather than see a child enslaved. Amid their gains, black women face enduring challenges that include police brutality and other forms of "misogynoir," or "gendered, anti-Black violence." For anyone hoping to topple the remaining barriers, this book is a font of inspiration. A vital book for any library or classroom--and for foot soldiers in the fight for racial justice.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 2020

    This work by Berry (history, Univ. of Texas at Austin) and Gross (history, Rutgers Univ.) expands the ReVisioning American History series by Beacon Press. Each chapter begins with a story about a black woman's experience around a selected topic. As the authors flesh out the chapter with wide-ranging and deeply researched information, they weave the featured story into the narrative to illustrate the topic under discussion. Chapter topics include black women's presence in the Americas prior to the Atlantic slave trade, enslaved black women's rebellions and legal battles for their freedom, the formation of black women's organizations working for political and social justice, black women choosing to live outside the law and their carceral experiences, the Great Migration and black nationalism, and black women's roles in contemporary protest movements. Most stories are about women who were assigned female at birth, but some trans women's stories are included as well. VERDICT A substantial addition to popular history. Will likely be well-received by black women seeking better historical representation and by allies looking to educate themselves about black history.--Monica Howell, Northwestern Health Sciences Univ. Lib., Bloomington, MN

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2020
    If history belongs to the winners, then it is no surprise that the voices of African American women have generally been ignored in accounts of U.S. history. Berry and Gross are determined to redress that injustice with this captivating, highly readable account. Rather than a straight textbook presentation, Berry and Ross convey the range of the Black female experience through the narratives of 11 mostly unknown women who either had a significant impact on American history or whose stories are emblematic of Black life at a certain historical moment. For example, they use the story of Belinda, who sued her enslaver's heirs for the freedom she had been promised, to introduce the many women who self liberated. Berry and Gross illuminate the long tradition of Black female resistance as they portray Patricia Okoumou, who was arrested in 2018 for scaling the Statue of Liberty to call attention to immigrant detention. As with all black women clapping back against power, as well as organizing against its corrupt and bigoted applications, Patricia spoke truth to it. A timely and much-needed restoration.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review "This book is a font of inspiration . . . A compact, exceptionally diverse introduction to the history of black women in America."
  • Library Journal, Starred Review "A substantial addition to popular history. Will likely be well-received by black women seeking better historical representation and by allies looking to educate themselves about black history."
  • Shelf Awareness, Starred Review "A welcome addition to the library of any history enthusiast, A Black Women's History of the United States is an absorbing read."
  • Booklist "Captivating, highly readable . . . A timely and much-needed restoration."
  • Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements "This book is a gift to anyone interested in a more complete--a more truthful--story about the United States. By starting the history about Black women on this land with us as free people and as people agitating for our freedom, by prioritizing all Black women's voices and coming up to the present day, Dr. Gross and Dr. Berry illuminate greater possibilities for our collective freedom dreams and struggles for collective liberation."
  • Heather Ann Thompson, historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy "A Black Women's History of the United States is an extraordinary contribution to our collective understanding of the most profound injustices and equalities, as well as the most committed struggles to realize true justice and equality, that have shaped this nation since its birth. Through the courageous and complex voices of black women, and with deft attention to the lives that black women have led from the earliest moments of conquest and colonialism to the dawn of the twenty-first century, historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Gross have utterly upended traditional accounts of the American past in ways most desperately needed in our American present."

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