Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920

Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Author University of North Carolina Press $24.95 (410p) ISBN 978-0-8078-4596-7
During the fight preceding the 19th amendment, U.S. Senator Lee Overman argued that ""the Woman's Suffrage Amendment... is a reaffirmation of the Fifteenth Amendment."" It was a bald statement of the complex and largely unspoken issues binding gender and race. Gilmore, who teaches history at Yale, gets off to a slightly rocky start. Her generalizations about the equality of black men and women are both too rose-tinted and unsupported: ""Black male voters often saw themselved as representing their wives, not as patriarchs ...but as family delegates to the electoral sphere."" Although she does eventually give a nod to the strongly patriarchal nature of uplift ideology, her best work comes later. Her description of the events leading up the 1899 amendment that effectively deprived North Carolina's black men of the franchise is fine narrative history, filled with cowardly politicians and self-serving firebrands willing to exploit the bugaboo of the predatory black man threatening the purity of white women. Black women, seeing their families cut off from participation in--and benefits of the state--joined with each other and, more tenously, with white women to get schools and health care for their communities. These bonds were stretched by woman's suffrage when white women's ties to their race led them to deny their ties to their gender. Made deeply personal by the examples of numerous women--particularly Sarah Pettey Dudley and Charlotte Hawkins Brown representing women before and after 1899--this is an accessible, informative addition to an increasingly important area of study. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 410 pages - 978-0-8078-2287-6
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