Talk with You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935

Talk with You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935

by Cheryl D. Hicks

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With this book, Cheryl Hicks brings to light the voices and viewpoints of black working-class women, especially southern migrants, who were the subjects of urban and penal reform in early-twentieth-century New York. Hicks compares the ideals of racial uplift and reform programs of middle-class white and black activists to the experiences and perspectives of those whom they sought to protect and, often, control.

In need of support as they navigated the discriminatory labor and housing markets and contended with poverty, maternity, and domestic violence, black women instead found themselves subject to hostility from black leaders, urban reformers, and the police. Still, these black working-class women struggled to uphold their own standards of respectable womanhood. Through their actions as well as their words, they challenged prevailing views regarding black women and morality in urban America. Drawing on extensive archival research, Hicks explores the complexities of black working-class women's lives and illuminates the impact of racism and sexism on early-twentieth-century urban reform and criminal justice initiatives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807882320
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 12/13/2010
Series: Gender and American Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 392
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Cheryl D. Hicks is assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Talk with You Like a Woman 1

I African American Urban Life and the Multiple Meanings of Protection in the City

Chapter 1 To Live a Fuller and Freer Life: Black Women Migrants' Expectations and New York's Urban Realities, 1890-1927 23

Chapter 2 The Only One That Would Be Interested in Me: Police Brutality, Black Women's Protection, and the New York Race Riot of 1900 53

Chapter 3 I Want to Save These Girls: Single Black Women and Their Protectors, 1895-1911 91

II Urban Reform and Criminal Justice

Chapter 4 Colored Women of Hard and Vicious Character: Respectability, Domesticity, and Crime, 1893-1933 125

Chapter 5 Tragedy of the Colored Girl in Court: The National Urban League and New York's Women's Court, 1911-1931 159

Chapter 6 In Danger of Becoming Morally Depraved: Single Black Women, Working-Class Black Families, and New York State's Wayward Minor Laws, 1917-1928 182

Chapter 7 A Rather Bright and Good-Looking Colored Girl: Black Women's Sexuality, "Harmful Intimacy," and Attempts to Regulate Desire, 1917-1928 204

III Rehabilitation, Respectability, and Race

Chapter 8 I Don't Live on My Sister, I Living of Myself: Parole, Gender, and Black Families, 1905-1935 237

Chapter 9 She Would Be Better off in the South: Sending Women on Parole to Their Southern Kin, 1920-1935 253

Conclusion: Thank God I Am Independent One More Time 271

Notes 279

Bibliography 335

Index 355

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This creative, cross-disciplinary book will make significant contributions to African American and women's history, as well as sociology and legal studies. Hicks brings a fresh perspective to under-researched topics and much-needed revision to long-held assumptions about the dynamics of class and moral reform issues among African Americans.—Tera Hunter, author of To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War

An excellent, often riveting series of portraits of working-class black women in New York City whose lives intersect with social reform, city policing, the first sexual revolution, and the great migration of southern African Americans to the North. Hicks provides an ambitious and important corrective to the scant treatment of these women by academic historians.—Patricia Schechter, Portland State University

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