Black and White Sat down Together: Reminiscences of an NAACP Founder

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In 1903, when white settlement worker Mary White Ovington was 38, she had no sense that there was a "racial problem" in the United States. Six years later, she, W.E.B. DuBois, and 50 others founded the NAACP. Their goals included ending racial discrimination and segregation, and achieving full civil and legal rights for African-Americans-a dream that is still alive today, along with the organization they founded.

Ovington's candid memoir reveals a corageous woman who defied the ...

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Overview

In 1903, when white settlement worker Mary White Ovington was 38, she had no sense that there was a "racial problem" in the United States. Six years later, she, W.E.B. DuBois, and 50 others founded the NAACP. Their goals included ending racial discrimination and segregation, and achieving full civil and legal rights for African-Americans-a dream that is still alive today, along with the organization they founded.

Ovington's candid memoir reveals a corageous woman who defied the social restrictions placed on women of her generation, race, and class, nd became part of an inner circle that made the decisions for the NAACP in its first forty years. Her actions often brought unwelcome notoriety-as wehn lurid newspaper headlines announced her attendance at a biracial dinner in 1908-yet she continued working side-by-side with such colleagues as DuBois, James Wheldon Johnson, amd Walter White, and began travelling across the country to help establish NAACP chapters in the deep south, the Midwest, and California.

Serialized in the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper in 1932 and 1933, Ovington's memoirs are here available for the first time in book form. Black and White Sat Down Together offers an insider's view of a seminal phase in the struggle for civil rights, and a moving encounter with a woman who was hailed in her time as a "fighting saint."


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to abolitionist parents, Ovington (1865-1951), a white socialist, reporter and pioneering settlement-house worker, in 1909 became a principal cofounder, with black civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Originally published in the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper in the early '30s, this informal, modest reminiscence only touches on Ovington's pivotal role in welding together influential blacks and whites to launch the NAACP, which she chaired from 1919 to 1947. Yet the book provides a vivid picture of the NAACP's campaign against lynchings, judicial outrages, discrimination and prejudice. Ovington presents valuable firsthand close-ups of Du Bois and his rival, Booker T. Washington, whose accommodationist approach she rejected in favor of Du Bois's demands for full equality. She also makes interesting observations about black theater, fiction and poetry in the interwar years. Luker co-edited The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. (June)
Library Journal
Illuminating race relations in the early 20th century, this memoir, originally serialized in the 1930s in the Baltimore African American newspaper, recalls a life of activism by a white, spinster social worker born of abolitionist parents. Recalling her life as a fund-raiser, organizer, board member, treasurer, and cofounder of the NAACP, Mary White Ovington (1865-1951) details the multitude of challenges she faced fighting for racial and gender equality in a male-dominated world. She weaves a rich tapestry as she evokes her memories of interracial events and key reformers such as Jane Adams, W.E.B. Du Bois, Walter Francis White, and Mary Church Terrell. Ovington biographer Carolyn Wedin's afterword reveals the importance of this woman as one of the lesser-known personalities in Civil Rights history. Recommended for collections on Civil Rights, African Americans, women's studies, and the NAACP. -Brenda M. Brock, Univ. of Buffalo, N.Y.
Booknews
A self-help guide written for managers who don't necessarily want to overthrow Bill Gates but would like to be efficient, effective, and sane in their current positions. The authors identify 12 areas that the consider "blockages" to managerial competence, such as negative personal values, low creativity, and unclear goals. A self-evaluation exercise is provided for each area, and then a detailed agenda for tackling that particular weak spot. The revised edition reflects new business practices, and the feedback of practicing managers who have used the book in the past. Distributed by Ashgate. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Carroll
istorians (e.g., Fairclough and Payne ) and biographers, most notably, perhaps, David Levering Lewis in his 1993 award-winning biography of W. E. B. Du Bois, are reassessing the role of the NAACP in the U.S. civil rights struggle. They (and lovers of history and biography) will be glad these Depression-era reminiscences of the Euramerican woman most deeply involved with the NAACP from its 1909 formation until her death in 1951 have been rescued from the archives of the "Baltimore Afro-American", where they appeared in 193233. Writing for middle-class African Americans who formed the backbone of the NAACP--men and women she had met on dozens of recruitment and fund-raising trips as the group's chairperson, treasurer, and director--Ovington, 67 when she began these essays, vividly describes experiences that shaped her life. Though not an introspective writer, Ovington is more relaxed and personal here than in her later memoir/NAACP history, "The Walls Came Tumbling Down". The work also includes the poem and the short story for which Ovington-as-writer is most often remembered and a helpful afterword by Carolyn Wedin, an English professor who recently completed an Ovington biography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558610996
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at The City University of New York
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.83 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Courageous Pioneer

    Black and White Sat Down Together is the story of how Mary White Ovington became involved with settlement and civil rights. The most remarkable aspect of this book to me is that Ovington lived in a time period in which women had little or no power, yet she is one of the most influential people of this century. Before reading this book I would never have guessed that an NAACP founder could of would have been a white female. I find Ovington's book to be very inspirational, because she takes on a fight while many sat on the sidelines out of apathy or cowardice. Although Ovington tries to downplay it, she obviously put her life in danger quite often to fight for civil rights. Her drive seems to come solely from a mere sense of duty to correct the social injustices, which to me is admirable.

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