NMAHMAI copy Purchased from the NMAH Library Endowment.
Introduction : Talk with you like a woman -- To live a fuller and freer life : black women migrants' expectations and New York's urban realities, 1890-1927 -- The only one that would be interested in me : police brutality, black women's protection, and the New York Race Riot of 1900 -- I want to save these girls : single black women and their protectors, 1895-1911 -- Colored women of hard and vicious character : respectability, domesticity, and crime, 1893-1933 -- Tragedy of the colored girl in court : the National Urban League and New York's Women's Court, 1911-1931 -- In danger of becoming morally depraved : single black women, working-class black families, and New York State's Wayward Minor Laws, 1917-1928 -- A rather bright and good-looking colored girl : black women's sexuality, "harmful intimacy," and attempts to regulate desire, 1917-1928 -- I don't live on my sister, I living of myself : parole, gender, and black families, 1905-1935 -- She would be better off in the South : sending women on parole to their southern kin, 1920-1935 -- Conclusion : Thank God I am independent one more time
With this book, the author 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. She 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, the author 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.