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Important Research Achievements
[2020] The African American Women in the Dilemma, 1920-1950 The African American Women in the Dilemma, 1920-1950

African Americans were not truly freed at the end of the Civil War. Rather, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court legitimated many Southern state laws re-establishing racial segregation in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, following which African-Americans faced decades of apartheid policies and various forms of racial discrimination. Historians generally pay close attention to momentous events in studies of race, but I evaluate racial issues differently. In The African American Women in the Dilemma, 1920-1950, I analyze how African American women engaged in self-help and racial uplift, in diverse ways, individually and collectively. The research results show that African American women used relatively conservative strategies to show their dedication and contribute to the African American community. These strategies included participation in social volunteer associations to redress racial issues, improve the status of women, demonstrate the ability of African Americans, and awaken notions of racial respectability and self-esteem. It such ways, these African American women also met other challenges, for instance, those of gender and class, but dealing with issues of race was their top priority. They were flexible and pragmatic in adopting means that brought success, and willing to wait to advance secondary issues of gender and class.


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