Womanist Forefathers: Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois

Hardcover (Print)
Not Available on BN.com


What Role did African American men have in the early twentieth-century struggle for women's suffrage? How is gender significant to the historical and contemporary struggles for African American liberation? In Womanist Forefathers, Gary L. Lemons examines the memoirs and political writings on women by Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois, positioning these radical proponents of female equality as "womanist forefathers" to later generations of gender progressive black men. Lemons argues that the writings of Douglass and Du Bois, which merge confessional narrative with social criticism, demonstrate the power of pro-womanist thinking in the vision of racial uplift both men advanced. Womanist Forefathers then traces the lineage between these early African American activists to contemporary pro-feminist black men, many of whom have similarly combined analyses of the personal with the political to envision a black male brotherhood founded on womanist principles, free from nationalism rooted in patriarchy, heterosexism, and homophobia.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gary Lemons’s Womanist Forefathers … invigorates the critical discourse and terrain of black male feminism … [it] comes highly recommended for anyone interested in black men doing feminism in the twenty-first century.” — African American Review

“Lemons provides a deep historical inquiry into black male feminist origins. No one has asked in quite as compelling a manner what qualities or experiences help to produce black men who see women’s oppression as a devastating problem. Furthermore, his positioning of absent and problematic fathers as the origin of the investment in the mother that is then transformed into an abiding concern with women’s rights is brilliant.” — Michael Awkward, author of Scenes of Instruction: A Memoir

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781438427553
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 9/10/2009
  • Pages: 237
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary L. Lemons is Visiting Professor of English at the University of South Florida and author of Black Male Outsider: Teaching as a Pro-Feminist Man, also published by SUNY Press.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: Theorizing a Pro-woman(ist) Politics of Gender Justice before, during, and after "The Black Sexism Debate" xi

Introduction: Black Men Writing Ourselves into Pro-woman(ist) Being(s) in the Name of the Black Maternal 1

Part I Reclaiming Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois as Womanist Forefathers

Chapter 1 A Recovered Past Most Usable: Documenting the History of Black Male Gender Progressivism 13

Chapter 2 Frederick Douglass's Journey from Slavery to Womanist Manhood: Liberating the Black Male Self 23

Chapter 3 W. E. B. Du Bois: "The Leading Male Feminist of His Time" and "Most Passionate Defender of Black Women" 53

Chapter 4 Novel for the "Darker Sisters": The Quest of the Silver Fleece and W. E. B. Du Bois's Vision of the (Quint)essential Black Woman(ist) 81

Part II Black Feminist "Sisters," "Brothers," and Fathers: Securing the Womanist Legacy

Chapter 5 On the Power of Contemporary Black Feminist Profession 115

Chapter 6 "Brother"hood Called into Question 127

Chapter 7 A Vision of Pro-woman(ist) Masculinity for a "NewBlackMan(hood)" 145

Chapter 8 Hands-on Practice: Everyday Challenges of Pro-woman(ist)/Feminist Fatherhood 163

Epilogue: "This is What a (Black Male) Feminist Looks Like" Time Has Brought about a Change 191

Notes 201

Works Cited 205

Index 211

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)