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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S3 E9 Documenting Unsung Women Leaders of Black Durham and North Carolina

Black women have often been omitted or written out of history. This much is true when it comes to many women leaders of Black Durham in the first several decades of the 20th century, when Durham, North Carolina’s Black Wall Street was at it’s height. As a result many Black women have never received the recognition or credit they deserved, in life or afterwards, for the contributions they made to their communities and society. Much of the work of the late Dr. Leslie Brown focused on analyzing the lives of working class, middle class and elite Black women and men in relation to working class, middle class and elite White women and men in Durham, North Carolina. In doing so she amplified the lives and voices of Black women who played pivotal roles in the upbuilding of their community, particularly during one of the darkest moments in the history of the state following the Civil War: the period immediately after the disfranchisement of Black men in North Carolina in 1900. Brown’s work was groundbreaking and significantly expanded what is understood about the social fabric of what was once known as the “Capital of the Black Middle Class.” Similarly, Dr. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore has also spent a great deal of time refocusing attention to the central role of Black women as political figures in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era by exploring the instrumental and interconnected relationship of gender, class and race in North Carolina politics from the period immediately prior to the disfranchisement of Black men in 1900 to the period when Black and white women gained the vote in 1920.

“ So as African-American men lost their right to vote, African-American women's position in the political sphere completely changed because they could no longer advocate for women's suffrage in an open way, because that would endanger black men. There are sons and brothers, so, There's a, big divide in the book around 1902, when black women turn to thinking about what work they can do without the bed and how they can try to prepare people for the future when they will be able to vote again. ~Dr. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore

Guests in this episode

Dr. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore

Musical Attribution:

1. Title: African Moon by John Bartmann. License, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

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2. Title: Window Sparrows by Axletree. Licensed under a Attribution License. License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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