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Beyond

Respectability

WOMEN,GENDER,ANDSEXUALITY

INAMERICANHISTORY

EditorialAdvisors:

SusanK.Cahn

WandaA.Hendricks

DeborahGrayWhite

AnneFirorScott,

FoundingEditorEmerita

Alistofbooksintheseriesappearsattheendofthisbook.

Beyond

Respectability

TheIntellectualThought

ofRaceWomen

BRITTNEYC.COOPER

Beyond Respectability TheIntellectualThought ofRaceWomen BRITTNEYC.COOPER

©2017bytheBoardofTrustees

oftheUniversityofIllinois

Allrightsreserved

1 2 3

4 5 C P

5 4

3 2 1

Thisbookisprintedonacid-freepaper.

LibraryofCongressCataloging-in-PublicationData

Names:Cooper,BrittneyC.,1980–author.

Title:Beyondrespectability:theintellectualthoughtofracewomen/BrittneyC.Cooper.

Othertitles:Intellectualthoughtofracewomen

Description:Urbana,IL:UniversityofIllinoisPress,[2017]|Series:Women,gender,andsexualityinAmerican

history|Includesbibliographicalreferencesandindex.|Identifiers:LCCN2017003605(print)|LCCN

2017013221(ebook)|ISBN9780252099540(ebook)|ISBN9780252040993(cloth:alk.paper)|ISBN

9780252082481(pbk.:alk.paper)

Subjects:LCSH:AfricanAmericanwomen—Intellectuallife—19thcentury.|AfricanAmericanwomen—

Intellectuallife—20thcentury.|NationalAssociationofColoredWomen(U.S.)|Terrell,MaryChurch,1863-

1954.|Murray,Pauli,1910–1985.|AfricanAmericanwomen—Biography.|AfricanAmericanintellectuals—

Biography.

Classification:LCCE185.89.I56(ebook)|LCCE185.89.I56C662017(print)|DDC305.48/896073—dc23

LCrecordavailableathttps://lccn.loc.gov/2017003605

Formymother,

DebbieCooperHicks,

whoseinnumerablesacrificesmadethisworkpossible.

Contents

Acknowledgments

PROLOGUE

INTRODUCTION

TheDutyoftheTrueRaceWoman

CHAPTER1

OrganizedAnxiety:TheNationalAssociationofColored

WomenandtheCreationoftheBlackPublicSphere

CHAPTER2

“Proper,DignifiedAgitation”:

TheEvolutionofMaryChurchTerrell

CHAPTER3

QueeringJaneCrow:PauliMurray’sQuest

foranUnhyphenatedIdentity

CHAPTER4

TheProblemsandPossibilitiesofthe

NegroWomanIntellectual

EPILOGUE

Notes

SelectedBibliography

Index

Acknowledgments

T hisbookbeganasaconversationwiththelateDr.RudolphP.Byrd,whenhestoppedto

talktomeonedayontheEmoryQuadrangleaboutthewaysthatIcouldblendmyinterests

in Black women writers and Black political theory. Invigorated by that conversation, I embarkedonaquesttodiscoverracewomen—whotheyare,whatmakesthemtick,laugh,cry, andfightforbetterdays.IdidnotknowthenthatIwouldbelivingwiththesewomeninone formor another for the better partofa decade. ButwhatIhave learned is never to let respectableraceladiesfoolyou—theyhavetakenmeononewildride! Fortheirsupportandencouragement,IthanktheincomparableDr.Byrd;Dr.Kimberly Wallace-Sanders,myfirstfeministprofessorandthereasonIcallmyselfafeministtoday;Dr. LawrenceP.Jackson,myfirstcollegeprofessor ever andthereasonwhyIamacollege professortoday;andDr.BeverlyGuy-Sheftall,theprototypeforallofuswhohavedaredto studytherichintellectuallegaciesofBlackwomenthinkers. IthankmyEmoryCrew,colleagueswhohavesupportedthisbookinbigandsmallways overtheyears:RobertJ.Patterson,BrendaD.Tindal,KeishaHaywood,V.DeniseJamesKim D. Green, Chante Martin, WorthKamili Hayes, Yanci M. Baker, PellomMcDaniels, Zeb Baker, Aukje Kluge, Donna Troka, Elizabeth Stice, Aida Levy-Hussen, Lerone Martin, MichellePurdy,KeishaGreen,RegineJackson,TracySmith,andthelateKharenFulton. ThisbookreceivedgenerousfinancialsupportfromtheUniversityofAlabamaintheform ofaCollegeofArtsandSciencesResearchCouncilGrantandadditionalfinancialsupport fromDeanBobOlinoftheCollegeofArtsandSciences.Icouldnothaveaskedforbetter colleaguesthanDr.DoveannaFultonandmyfriendsJenniferShoaffandDerrickBryan. AFordFoundationPostdoctoralFellowshipgavemeacriticalyearoftimeofftodevoteto thisbookandaffordedmeaccesstooneofthemostsupportivecommunitiesofscholarsthat exists.IamsothankfulforLeeAnnFuji,SalamishahTillet,KorithaMitchell,PierGabrielle Foreman, David Ikard, Ula Y. Taylor, Monica Coleman, Fox Harrell, Ayesha Hardison, RashawnRay,EricAnthonyGrollmanandotherswhohavebeenpartofmyFordFoundation mentorshipnetworkandcommunityofsupport.ThanksalsotoStephanieEvansforherearly supportofthismanuscript. TheRutgers School ofArts andSciences has alsosupportedthis bookwithacritical semesteroftimeoffthatbecamecriticaltomyabilitytocompletethemanuscript.Ialsothank theRutgersUniversityResearchCouncilfortheirgenerousgrantinsupportofpublicationof thiswork. AtRutgers,Ihavebeenembracedbytheintellectualgenerosityofsomanyscholarsand colleagueswhosegiftoftimeandattentiontomyprofessional developmentfillsmewith gratitude.ThankyouMiaBayforinvitingmetoservemypostdoctoralyearattheCenterfor

RaceandEthnicity.ThankyoutoCherylWallandDeborahGrayWhiteforreadingdraftsof mymanuscript.Thisbookisstrongerbecauseofyou.ThankyoutoAnnFabianforalways “gettingit,”andforencouragingmeandmakingmefeellikeIwasontherightpath.Thankyou to my colleagues in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, particularly Mary HawkesworthforhermultiplereadsofthisbookandAlisonBernsteinforalwayscheeringme on.Youaregreatlymissed,Alison.ThanksalsototheJuniorFacultyCrew.Andthankyouto mycolleaguesintheDepartmentofAfricanaStudiesincludingEdwardRamsamy,KimButler, andGayleTate. ThankyoutoMarthaJonesforaffirmingthenecessityoftanglingwiththevauntedideasof the“bigboys.” Thankyoutoeachblindreviewerwhoreadthemanuscriptandgavethoughtfulcomments thathaveassuredlymadethebookstronger.IappreciateLarinMcLaughlinforbelievinginthis bookwhenitwasinproposalformatandforultimatelybringingittotheUniversityofIllinois Press.AndthankyouDawnDuranteforbeingawonderfuleditorandadvocateforthisbook, fordiligentlyguidingmethroughtheprocess,andforbeingpatientwithmeduringmymany freak-outsalongtheway. Anearlierversionoftheinformationintheprologuewaspublishedas“Ain’tIALady?:

RaceWomen,MichelleObama,andtheEver-ExpandingDemocraticImagination.”Thankyou

to the Journal of Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States (MELUS) and to Oxford UniversityPressforpermissiontoincludethismaterial.Andthankyoutothededicatedstaff

membersattheSchlesingerLibrary,RadcliffeInstitute,HarvardUniversityandtheMoorland-

SpingarnResearchCenteratmyalmamaterHowardUniversity. OneofthethingsIknowforsureisthatIhaveoneofthebaddestcrewsofhomegirlsto everexist.Mostofthemalsohappentobeacademics.Andallofthemarebrillianceand BlackGirlMagicpersonified. SusanaMorris,myWonderTwinandCF,thankyouforansweringeverydistressedphone call,readingmultipledraftsofthisbook,andtalkingmeofftheledgeallthetime.(SagDance.) RobinBoylorn,my“bae”andCF,Iamsogladforourfriendship,forthewaysyouholdme down,forallthecounsel,prayers,andencouragement. AndtoalltheladiesoftheCFC—RachelRaimist,SheriDavis-Faulkner,EeshaPandit, ChanelCraft-Tanner,andCrunkista—Ilovey’all.Thislifeissomuchbetterbecausewegetto dothisworktogether. Treva B. Lindsey, I feel like we wrote these books together. Thank youfor beinga confidante,anally,amentor,astrategist,aformidableinterlocutor,andoneoftherealest homegirlsIhave. AndtoalloftherestofthePleasureNinjas—JoanMorgan,YabaBlay,EstherArmah,Kaila Story—thisworkhasbeendelightfulbecauseIhavehadthesublimepleasureofdoingitwith you. KristieDotson,whenImetyou,Imadesensetomyselfandmybookmadesensetome. Thankyoufor doctoringonittill itshines.Your defthandandcritical eyemadeall the difference.SpecialthanksalsotoTheriPickens. ThankyoutomyUpNorthCrewofDownSouthGirls—ShatemaThreadcraft(myHarriet) andMelanyePrice(myroaddog).ThankyoutomyPhillyCrew,PastorLeslieCallahan,

CharisseTucker,andBella.ThankyoutomyNow-Jerseygirls,TheresaThamesandCandice Benbow.ThankstoTanishaFordandJessicaJohnson(D.O.L.s).AndthankyoutoRaydell Gomez.

Tomymovementfolks,nothinghasbeenthesamesinceAugust9,2014.ToMonicaDennis,

TeddyReeves,NakishaLewis,VivianAnderson,ArielleNewtonandalltherest,I’dridethat terriblebuswithallofyouagaininthecauseoffreedom.JoanneSmith,thankyouforloving us.AkibaSolomon,thankyouforputtingeyesonthisbookinacriticalmoment.Itmadea difference. IgrewupanonlychildbutinMychalDenzelSmith,DarnellMoore,andKieseLaymon,I havefoundbrothers,cheerleaders,kindredspirits,andfam.Iameternallygratefulforallof yourBlackBoyMagic. MelissaHarris-Perry,thankyoufor beingamentor andamodel for how todoBlack feministandpublicscholarshipwithintegrity.MichaelEricDyson,thankyouforlookingout forasisterintangibleways.MarkAnthonyNeal,yougivemehopeforfeministbrothers. Thankyouforthequietbutinsistentwaythatyouproddedandencouragedmeto“finishthe book!” CrystalFaison,clearlywe’vebeenfriendsformorethanonelifetime.Thanksforbeing theresincethebeginning.EricaHill,thankyouandLorenzoforlettingmecrasheverytimeI haveneededaplaceandforeverypeptalkandprayer. ThosewhoknowmeknowIamaSoutherngirl,bornandraised.ThewomenIwriteforare thewomenwhoraisedme.ThisbookisformyGrandmotherLouveniaCooper,myAunties Colleen,Linda,andGeraldine,myuncle Barry,mymanycousins,includingBrandonand Courtney,ChadandSterling,KaseyandBrandy,formyniecesandnephews,andalltherest.It isfortheEdmondsfamily,includingmyBigMamaGenevaEdmonds.Itisformystep-dad,the Reverend.Butmorethanallofthem,itisformymom,DebbieCooperHicks.Thankyoufor everybedtime story, Baby-Sitters Club book, and insistentconversationaboutthe proper pronunciationofwordsintheEnglishlanguage.Thankyouforfirstencouragingmetowrite andfortypingmystories.AllthatIamtodaybeganwithseedsyouplanted. ThanksbetoGodalmightyforkeepingme. ToanyoneIhaveforgotten,pleasechargeittomyheadandnotmyheart.

Beyond

Respectability

PROLOGUE

OnlytheBLACKWOMANcansay“whenandwhereIenterinthequiet,undisputed dignityofmywomanhood,withoutviolenceandwithoutsuingorspecialpatronage, thenandtherethewholeraceenterswithme.”

—AnnaJuliaCooper(1892)

F romthemomentIencounteredAnnaJuliaCooper’sVoicefromtheSouthinagraduate

courseonraceandfeministtheory,Ihavebeenonaquesttounderstandwherethis

nineteenth-centurySouthernBlackwoman,onewithwhomIcoincidentallysharealastname, foundthecourageandtheaudacitytochallengethethinkingofBlackmalepreachers,white malephilosophers,andearlywhitewomenfeminists. 1 PriortostudyingCooperinthegraduate course,Iknewofhernameonlybecauseitisembossedonastreetsignintheneighborhood whereshelivedinWashington,D.C.,afewblocksfromthecampusofmyalmamater,Howard University.Butbeforethatgraduatecourse,Ididn’tknowanythingaboutherwork.Thoughher lifeandworkclearlyframesthebackdropformyownintellectualformation,inmytimeliving inherneighborhood,Ineverreadanythingshewrote.WhenIfinallycametoherwork,itfelt likeahomecoming.Iwasayoungwomanintheprocessofbecominganintellectual,onewho, atthetime,wasstillnotquitecomfortablewithmyownpenchantforaskingquestionsand challengingreceivedwisdom.WhenIencounteredhertext,Icametorecognizethatthose contrarianinclinationswithinme,whenputtogoodandwell-traineduse,coulddosome seriousworkforBlackpeople.AnnaJuliaCoopertaughtmethat. ThoughCoopernolongerlaborsundertheburdenofintellectualobscurity,fartoomany Blackwomenthinkersdo.BeyondRespectability:TheIntellectualThoughtofRaceWomen isabookaboutBlackwomenasthinkersandintellectuals.Thoughweknowthenamesof womenlikeMaryChurchTerrellandFannieBarrierWilliams,PauliMurrayandToniCade Bambara,westillknowfartoolittleabouttheactualcontentoftheirthinking.ManyBlack womenthinkerslaborundertheexigenciesofhistoricaltriage.Theirnamesexistalmostlike family photos relegated to a wall we rarely touch. We know they are important. We memorializethemwithhonoredplacesonthewallofourofficesandlibrariesandinthe histories we write. We celebrate their voluminous firsts as founders of organizations, publishedwriters,recipientsofadvanceddegrees,andmore.Butthenweshelvethem,as thoughpreservationisthemostaptwaytoshowrespectfortheircriticalintellectuallabor. Suchactsarerootedinnotionsofbothcareandcarelessness.Wecareenoughnottoletthese womenbethrownaway,butinmanyrespects,thedearthofcriticalengagementswithmostof thewomenunderconsiderationinthisbooksuggestsalackofcriticalcareinhandlingtheir intellectualcontributions.Thisbookisnotonlycommittedtothenotionthatweshould“care more.”ItexploreswhatacarefulexaminationofBlackwomen’sintellectualtraditionsmight yieldforboththestudyofBlackintellectualhistoryandforoneparticularbranchofBlack intellectualhistory—Blackfeministthought. Beyondcare,Iwouldalsosuggestthat,inordertotaketheseBlackwomenseriouslyas intellectuals,wemustbewillingtotrustthem.DareIsay,trust?Bytrust,Idon’tmeanalways agree.Imeanacknowledge,appreciate,strugglewith,disagreewith,sitwith,andquestion.I

meantakeBlackwomenseriously.Mostacademicshavebeentrainedtotrustthatwhitemales of all varieties are capable of “deep thoughts.” Beyond Respectability requires that we approachBlackwomen’slonghistoryofknowledgeproductionwiththissamekindoftrust.IfI wereaimingtoshow(andwassuccessfulatshowing)howBlackwomen’sideasdovetailed theideasofMichelFoucaultorGillesDeleuzeandFelixGuattariorLouisAlthusserorJudith Butler,thisbookwouldbedeemedsufficientlyrigorousand,dareIsay,“original.”ThatIaim foradifferentgoal,namelytoshowthatweshouldtakeBlackwomen,fromFannieBarrier WilliamstoMaryChurchTerrelltoPauliMurray,astheoreticallyseriouslyaswetakethe workofFrenchwhitemales,requiresadifferentinclination.Itisperhapscounterintuitiveto arguethataffectiveconsiderationslikecareandtrustarecriticaltotheworkofstudyingBlack women’sintellectualproduction.ButBlackwomen’sknowledgeproductionhasalwaysbeen motivatedbyasenseofcareforBlackcommunitiesinaworldwherenon-Blackpeopledid notfindvalueinthelivesandlivelihoodsofthesecommunities.Andweareagaininamoment wheretakingcareofBlacklivesandlivelihoodshasbecomeamatterofcriticalsocialimport. Thecalltocarehereisacallforscholarlyrigor,areminderthatBlackwomen’sintellectual workdoesstillmatter. WhatmightitmeanforBlackfeministscholarstosaytheyaretheoristsinthetraditionof AnnaJuliaCooperorFannieBarrierWilliams,orIdaB.WellsorPatriciaHillCollinsorJoy James,inthesamewaythatscholarsareallowedtoclaimthattheyareMarxist,orFreudian, orFoucaldian,orKantian,orSpinozan?WhatmightitlookliketobeCooperianorWellsianin ourapproachtothestudyofBlackwomen’slivesandBlackintellectualthought? Beyond Respectability employs an Anna Julia Cooperian approach to reading and interrogatingthetheoretical workandlivedexperiencesofBlackwomenintellectuals.To understandthismethodologicalapproach,oneneedstofirstbecomeacquaintedwithtwoof

Cooper’scardinalcommitments.Theyinclude:1)acommitmenttoseeingtheBlackfemale

bodyasaformofpossibilityandnotaburden,and2)acommitmenttocenteringtheBlack

femalebodyasameanstocathectBlacksocialthought.InVoice,CooperplacestheBlack female bodyand all that it knows squarelyinthe center of the text’s methodology. She fundamentallybelievedthatwecannotdivorceBlackwomen’sbodiesfromthetheorythey produce. TheseformsofwhatItermembodieddiscoursepredominateinCooper’swork.Embodied discoursereferstoaformofBlackfemaletextualactivismwhereinracewomenassertively demandtheinclusionoftheirbodiesand,inparticular,working-classbodiesandBlackfemale bodiesbyplacingtheminthetextstheywriteandspeak.BypointingtoallthewaysBlack women’sbodiesemergeinformalandinformalautobiographicalaccounts,archivalmaterials, andadvocacywork,wedisruptthesmoothfunctionofthecultureofdissemblanceandthe politicsofrespectabilityastheparadigmaticframesthroughwhichtoengageBlackwomen’s ideas and their politics. Theorized byhistorians Darlene ClarkHine and EvelynBrooks Higginbotham,respectively,thecultureofdissemblanceandthepoliticsofrespectabilityrefer to two keystrategies thatBlackwomenused to navigate a hostile public sphere and to minimizethethreatofsexualassaultandotherformsofbodilyharmroutinelyinflictedupon Blackwomen.ThesestrategiesattemptedtomakeBlackwomen’sbodiesasinconspicuousand assexuallyinnocuousaspossible.Undoubtedly,Blackwomendiddissemble,makingtheir

interior thoughts and feelings inaccessible frompublic view. And theywere undoubtedly obsessedwithmakingtherace“respectable.” 2 ButthesewerenottheonlystrategiesBlack womenusedtonavigatethepublicsphere,inpartbecausetheywereacutelyawareofthe limitationsofmakingthemselvesinvisibleinaworldpredicatedinthesurveillanceofBlack bodies.CooperandotherracewomenforgedtheirunderstandingsofBlackracialidentityand BlackfreedomupontheterrainoftheveryvisibleBlackandfemalebody.Thusthebookasks us to consider what Black women thinkers said about Black women’s lives, and Black possibility,beyondthediscourseofrespectability.

FIGURE1.AnnaJuliaCooper.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,ManuscriptsDivision, HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

FIGURE1.AnnaJuliaCooper.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,ManuscriptsDivision,

HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

AniconicmomentfromCooper’s Voice fromthe South is instructive. Inher oft-cited criticalexchangewithMartinDelany,sheexposestheproblemwithmasculinistconceptionsof Blackpossibility:“OnlytheBLACKWOMANcansay‘whenandwhereIenterinthequiet, undisputeddignityofmywomanhood,withoutviolenceandwithoutsuingorspecialpatronage, thenandtherethewholeraceenterswithme.’” 3 AparagonoftheemergingGreatRaceMan

modelofleadershipthatreliedonacharismaticmaleleaderasitscenterpiece, 4 Delany,whom Cooperadmired,representedboththepotencyandthedangerofamasculinistapproachtorace progress. Delany, a staunch Black nationalist, reveled in being what Cooper called “an unadulteratedblackman”withnoidentifiableEuropeanancestry.Forhim,this“pure”African bloodlinemeantthatwhenhe,anaccomplishedmedicaldoctor,intellectual,andracialleader, “enteredthecouncilofkingstheblackraceenteredwithhim.” 5 Delanywasaquintessential racemanwho,byturns,attemptedaracecolonizationschemeinAfrica,andwhenthatfailed, servedintheUnionArmy.Whilehewasachampionoftheeducationofwomen,healso thoughttheirprimaryrolein“theregenerationoftherace”wasasgoodmothers.Buthisrace rhetoricwastiedtohisbeliefthathisbloodlinehadremainedunsulliedbywhiteness. 6 Asthe child of an enslaved mother and a white slave master, Cooper could make no such pronouncementsaboutBlackracialpurityoranunadulteratedbloodline.Historiesofsexual violenceandbodilytraumainBlackwomen’slivesmadesuchaccountsofracialidentity untenable. Unimpressed by Delany’s definition of power, which metonymically centered formal recognitionbythe“councilofkings,”Cooperalsomadeclearthat“whatevertheattainmentsof theindividualmaybe…hecanneverberegardedasidenticalwithorrepresentativeofthe whole.” 7 By challenging Delany’s conception of power, Cooper rejected his implicit romanticizationofpoliticalelitismandwhitemalestandardsofpowerasthegoaltowhich Blackpeopleshouldaspire. 8 Cooperpointedinsteadtothe“hornyhandedtoilingmenand womenof the South” as the proper measure of race progress. Focusingonthe gnarled, callousedhandsofworking-classBlackpeopledemandedthatracialaccountsofprogress remain connected to the material and embodied conditions of everyday Black people. Moreover,Coopermadeclearthatherprimarysocialgoalwasnottheachievementofracial respectability,butrathertheachievementof“undisputeddignity.”Thecallfordignityandthe callforrespectabilityarenotthesame,thoughtheyarefrequentlyconflated.Demandsfor dignityaredemandsforafundamentalrecognitionofone’sinherenthumanity.Demandsfor respectabilityassume thatunassailable social proprietywill prove one’s dignity. Dignity, unlikerespectability,isnotsociallycontingent.Itisintrinsicand,therefore,notupfordebate. AndCooperwaswillingtostepintotheringtocontestanyonewhothoughtotherwise. Thus,Cooper’sracialconceptionsremainedprofoundlyrootedinandonthebody,despite criticaldisagreementswithDelany’srequirementsforAfricanbloodquantum.Racialpurity andformalrecognitionbywhitebodiesofpowerwerenotprerequisitesfortheconcessionand acknowledgmentofBlackdignity.Blackwomencouldshowup,movethroughtheworld,and makeprofoundcontributionswhenviolentandoppressiveconditionsceasedtoinhibittheir accesstofullbodilyintegrity.Inthisway,theBlackfemalebodybecameintegraltohowBlack womentheorizedthepoliticsofracialuplift. UnlikehercontemporaryW.E.B.DuBois—whofamouslyconceptualizedtheblackbody as a site of internal striving—“two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warringideals inone darkbody, whose dogged strengthalone keeps it frombeingtorn asunder” 9 —Cooperembracedracialembodimentaspossibilityratherthanasperturbation. WhereDuBoischaracterizedtheBlackbodyasrackedwithanepicinternalstruggleover

identity, Cooper, using the Black female body as a point of reference, saw intersecting identities—primarily of race and gender, but also of class and nation—as a point of possibility.InCooper’saccountofracialidentity,aBlackfemaleexperienceofembodiment broughtthesecompetingnational identitiesintogenerativetension,whereasinDuBois’s’ account,competingidentitiesthreatenedtodismembertheBlackself:

Inthislastdecadeofourcentury,changesofsuchmomentareinprogress,suchnewandalluringvistasare opening out before us, such original and radical suggestions for the adjustment of labor and capital, of governmentandthegoverned,ofthefamily,thechurchandthestate,thattobeapossiblefactor,thoughan infinitesimal[one]insuchamovementispregnantwithhopeandweightywithresponsibility.Tobeawomanin suchanagecarrieswithitaprivilegeandanopportunityneverimpliedbefore.ButtobeawomanoftheNegro raceinAmerica,andtobeabletograspthedeepsignificanceofthepossibilitiesofthecrisis,istohavea heritage,itseemstome,uniqueinalltheages. 10

Here,CooperconstructsBlackwomen’sintersectionalpositionasitsownkindof“crisis”of “possibility,”asaspaceof“hope,”“responsibility,”andeven“privilege.”Sheinvertsthe logicofmarginalizationthatonewouldtypicallyassumeinanargumentaboutBlackwomen’s positionattheintersectionofraceandgender. 11 Sheinvokesthesymbolismofapregnant female body heavy with the weight of racial responsibility. Black women’s capacity to reproducechildrenwhowouldinherittheslavestatusofthemotherhadtetheredtheirmaterial value to their reproductive capacity, simultaneouslyrenderingthemvulnerable to endless sexualexploitation.Cooper,however,inherinvocationofanexpectantfemalebody,offers new creative and procreative possibilities to Black women. At the most literal level, emancipatedBlackwomanhoodmeantBlackwomencouldproducecitizensratherthanslaves. AllkindsofBlackbodiesappearinCooper’swork.Inonemoment,sheusesembryonic imagerytodescribetheraceasbeing“fulloftheelasticityandhopefulnessofyouth”andas havinga “quickeningofits pulses and a glowingofits self-consciousness.” 12 Inanother moment,Coopercharacterizestheraceasatwenty-one-year-oldBlackmale,“justattheageof ruddymanhood.”Thisyoungman,whoiseagertomakehiswayintheworld,challenges severalstereotypicalnotionsofBlackmalesaslazy,perpetuallyimmature,andunmotivated. ShecharacterizesthisstateofmaturityasamomentofprofoundpossibilityforbothBlack people and for America, and as a critical moment for “retrospection, introspection, and prospection.” 13 This young man’s youthful, healthy, sanguine complexion, exemplified in Cooper’suseofthetermruddy,situateshimasapositiveadditiontoAmericanlife.Neithera rapistnorapotentialcriminal,heisapersonwhonowhasthefreedomtomaturetoadulthood andpursuelife’spossibilities.Herinvocationofayoungmalebodyreadytoencounterthe transformingAmericanbodypoliticintentionallyconcedesthevalueofBlackmanhood,in starkoppositiontoanideologicalsystembentuponalternatelyinfantilizingorcriminalizing Blackmen. Cooperalsodaringly“writ[es]herbody”ontothepagesofherownbook. 14 Inoneincident, shesearchedforaladiesroomatatrainstation.Whenshefoundthebathroom,onedoorwas marked“forladies”andtheother“forcoloredpeople.”Thiscreatedamomentofcognitive andexperientialdissonanceforCooper,whowasleft“wonderingunderwhichheadIcome.” 15 ElizabethAlexanderreadsthisasamomentoftextualresistanceforCooper,whoisfacedwith

achoicethatwillnecessarily“eras[e]somecrucialpartofheridentity.”Theoptionspresented to her “render her a literallyimpossible bodyinher time and space.” 16 Inthis moment, “Cooper reminds her readers … that she lives and moves withina physical bodywith

sensationsandneeds.” 17 Thediscursivetechnologiesofracethatoperateinthesigns“for ladies”and“forcolored”inherentlyconstitutediscursiveandtextualactsofmisrecognitionfor Blackwomen.Theonlywaytoachieveanyrecognitionistoinsertabodyintothetextthat challengestheidentitiessignifiedinthelabels.Theinsertionofherbodyalsodemonstratesthe waysinwhichpublicspacewasdesignednotonlytorenderBlackbodiesasinferior,but Blackfemalebodiesasunrecognizableandunknowableincivicterms.WhereBlackwomen’s bodieshadbeeninherentlypubliclyknowableundertheconditionsofslavery,afterfreedom andtheconferralofcitizenship,Blackwomendidnotfullyfitintothecategoriespropagated under Jim Crow. Yet, Cooper’s colored and female body ontologically challenged the epistemologicalclaimsthatthosesignsmade.Inotherwords,Cooper’stextuallypresentBlack femalebodydemandedtobeknown,intheverywaysthesignsattemptedtoforeclose.She usedrepresentationsofherbodyinAVoicetochallengetherace-genderedlogicsofthose signs,hopingintheprocesstoexposethediscursivelogicsofracismandsexismandalsoto transformthosediscoursesatthesametime.“Bywritingherbodyintothetextsasshedoes,”

ElizabethAlexanderremindsus,“Cooperforgestextualspaceforthecreationoftheturn-of-

the-centuryAfrican-Americanfemaleintellectual.…AssuchAVoicebecomesasymbolic representationofthebodyoftheAfrican-Americanwomanoflettersnewlycreatedinthe publicsphere.” 18 Herintentionalinvocationofherowncorporealitythroughtheuseofembodieddiscourse reminds us thatintellectual workis nota disembodied project. Thatfactalone makes it untenableforscholarstocontinuetoreadBlackwomen’sliteraturesolelyorprimarilythrough the corporeal frames offered to us by the culture of dissemblance or the politics of respectability.Respectabilityanddissemblancebelongtoabroaderconstellationofsocial formulations that race women theorized and enacted to protect themselves and make themselvesknownontheirownterms.Butifwefailtomovebeyondrespectability,wewill continuetomisscriticalpartsofthestory.Cooper,likeotherBlackwomenthinkersofher time, recognized that muting her body, or dissembling, offered little safety and limited prospectsforachievingrespectability. Forinstance,inwhatismostassuredlyanallusiontoIdaB.Wells’sviolentencounterona

traininthelate1880s,Cooperwrote,“Ipurposelyforbeartomentioninstancesofpersonal

violencetocoloredwomentravelinginlesscivilizedsectionsofourcountry,wherewomen havebeenforciblyejectedfromcars,thrownoutofseats,theirgarmentsrudelytorn,their personwantonlyandcruellyinjured.” 19 ThisforthrightpresentationofaBlackfemalebody injuredintheprocessofdoingraceworkisjustoneofmanyexamplesofhowembodied discourseshowsupinCooper’sworkandthatofotherBlackwomen—pushingustodealwith theembodieddimensionsofpublicBlackwomen’slives.Cooper’suseofembodieddiscourse asadisruptivetextualpracticeultimatelylocatesBlackfemalebodieswithintheprojectof racialknowledgeproductionandthereorganizationofplaceorpublicspace.ForCooper,and forthisproject,Blackbodies—andinparticular,Blackwomen’sbodies—markpossibilities

and generative tensions that are sites of inspiration and theory production. Whether the orientingBlackbodyincludedapregnantwoman,ayoungman,anembryonic,genderneutral body,orevenherownbodyexperiencingvariousmodesofsegregation,Cooper’sworkcanbe readthroughtrackingthe varyinginvocations ofBlackbodies as a mechanismfor theory productionitself. Intherestofthisbook,IfollowCooper’sleadbylookingforthevarietyofwaysthatthe otherBlackwomenthinkersunderexamination—womenlikeMaryChurchTerrell,Fannie BarrierWilliams,andPauliMurray—invokenotionsofembodimentaspartoftheirtheoretical production.BylookingfortheappearanceofBlackwomen’sbodies,wecantrackthevariety ofwaysthatracewomenassertedtheirownideasaboutwhatitmeanstobeBlackwomen intellectualsdespite,andofteninlightof,theprecaritiesofBlackfemaleembodiment.Doing sohasimportanttheoreticalandmethodologicalimplications.FocusingonthewaysthatBlack womendiscussembodiedexperienceintheirsocialtheorizingremindsusthatBlackwomen didnotonlyseektomakeBlackfemalebodiesrespectable.Beyondstrategicinvestmentsin dissemblanceandrespectabilityaspracticesthatallowedforsafermovementthroughpublic space,thestudyofracewomen’sintellectualproductionsuggeststhat,throughthechoiceto writetheirbodiesintotextsandtouseBlackfemaleembodimentasthezeropointoftheir theorizing,theywereinterestedinother approachestounderstandingandamelioratingthe precarity of Black women’s lives. Though many Black women practiced a culture of dissemblanceinpublic,intheirtextualworkandonthelecturestage,theyfrequentlypulled backthe cloakofBlackfemale painand frustration, exposingthe personal nature ofthe strugglestheyexperienced,evenastheyworkedtomaketheworldsaferforBlackwomen.Ida B.Wellswasmortifiedwhenshecriedthefirsttimeshegaveanantilynchingaddress.The audacitytotalkabouthowtheyfeltaboutracismindexesanimplicitbeliefthatBlackwomen’s embodiedandaffectiveexperiencesofracismandpatriarchymatteredintheprojectofBlack female knowledge production. The audacity, conversely, to discuss in fleeting moments feelingsofpleasure,despitedailycontentionwithextremeracialrepression,againchallenges overdetermined readings of race women being obsessed in every moment with being respectable.Attendingtoembodimentthroughthetrackingofembodieddiscourseremindsus thatwecannotstudyBlackwomen’stheoreticalproductionortellBlackwomen’sintellectual historywithoutknowingsomethingoftheirlives. Atthesametime,seeingBlackfemalebodiesassitesoftheoryproductionallowsusto movetheworkofBlackwomen’sintellectualhistorybeyondtriage.Oneoftheunfortunate methodologicalresultsoftriagingBlackwomen’shistoriesisthatwhenwehaverecovereda Blackwomanfigure,thatis,whenwehavesavedherfrombeingburiedandlosttotheannals ofhistory,whenweknowhernameandasmanydetailsaswecanaboutherlifeandwork, thenwetreatherasthoughitistimetomoveontothenextpatient.Thatwehavenotyet engaged with the content of what Black women intellectuals actually said, even as we celebrateallthattheydid,seemstoescapenotice.Thisrecoveryimperativememorializes BlackwomenfigureslikeCooperandherracewomencolleagueswhileobscuringotherkinds ofcriticalscholarlyutilitytheyhaveforourconversationsinhistory,politics,literarystudies, andfeministtheory.BecausewearefamiliarwithCooper,becausewecancallhername, becausetherearetwobooksofcriticalscholarshipabouther(albeitwrittentwodecades

apart),weactasthoughthereisnothingneworgroundbreakingtosayabouther. 20 Bycontrast, weneverengageW.E.B.DuBoisinthisway.Everyyear,anewscholarlytextiswritten grapplingwithhis work.Meanwhile,theworkofBlackwomen’s intellectual historyand BlackfeministtheoryproductionsuffersfromlackofaccesstotherichhistoriesofBlack women’sideas.Thus,thisworkisnotsolelyaworkofrecovery.Iamdeeplyconcernedabout whatthesenewideasmeanformakingcriticalshiftsinourintellectualgenealogies,inour currentBlackfeministformulations,andinourtellingofBlackintellectualhistory. ThankstothepedagogicalandscholarlyworkofBlackfeministtheoristsandBlackwomen historians,ithasbeenmanyyearssinceIthoughtofAnnaJuliaCoopermerelyasanameona Washington,D.C.,streetsign.Intheensuingyears,IhavehadsenseenoughtoreturntoTStreet tovisittheplaceshelived.IhavehadachancetositintheMoorland-Spingarnarchivesonthe campusofHowardUniversity,justafewblocksfromherhome,andresearchandreadher papers.ThereisawaythatBlackwomen’sintellectuallegaciespopulatethebackgroundsof ourmovementsthroughpublicspaceandourintellectualenvirons,evenwhenweareunaware ofhowimportanttheirthinkingistoshapingthelandscapesinwhichwemove.Cooperisan origin point in an intellectual geography and genealogy of Black women’s knowledge productionthathasledmeinmanyunexpectedandfruitfuldirections.Butmostofall,Iam remindedoftheinherentboldnessofherdemandandexpectationthatshebetakenseriouslyas athinkerandtheoristgrapplingwithwhatshetermedthe“greatquestionsoftheage.”Andin therestofthisbooksheprovidesthetheoreticalandmethodologicalblueprintthatallowsme todothesameforotherracewomen.

INTRODUCTION

TheDutyoftheTrueRaceWoman

FromthetimethatthefirstimportationofAfricansbegantoaddcomfortandwealth totheexistenceoftheNewWorldCommunity,theNegrowomanhasbeen constantlyprovingtheintellectualcharacterofherraceinunexpecteddirections; indeed,hersuccesshasbeensignificant.Fromtheforegoingweconcludethatitis thedutyofthetruerace-womantostudyanddiscussallphasesoftherace question.

—PaulineHopkins(1902)

W hatdoesitmeanandwhathasitmeanttobeaBlackfemaleintellectual?Whatdoesit

meantobearacewoman?Whenandwherearethesitesofracewomen’sbecoming?

InBeyondRespectability:TheIntellectualThoughtofRaceWomen,Iarguethattoarriveat ananswertothefirstquestion,wemustdiligentlyinterrogateandexaminethelatterquestions. RacewomenwerethefirstBlackwomenintellectuals.Astheyenteredintopublicracial leadership roles beyond the church in the decades after Reconstruction, they explicitly fashioned for themselves a public dutyto serve their people throughdiligentand careful intellectual workandattentionto“provingthe intellectual character” ofthe race.Pauline

Hopkinsdeclaredtwokeytasksattachedtotheworkofthe“truerace-woman.” 1 Theywere“to study” and “to discuss” “all phases of the race question.” Not only were these women institutionbuildersandactivists;theydeclaredthemselvespublicthinkersonracequestions. ThoughHopkins andher colleagues werepartofacritical mass ofpublicBlackwomen

thinkersinthe1890s,theyjoinedalongerlistofBlackwomenwhohadbeenattheforefrontof

debatesover“thewomanquestion”andtheroleofBlackwomeninpubliclifethroughoutthe 1800s. 2 Inthisbook,Iconstructbothanintellectualgenealogyandanintellectualgeographyofrace women, whose work as public thinkers remains undertheorized, despite more than three decadesofcriticalworkinBlackfeministtheoryandliterarycriticismandBlackwomen’s history.Thus,thisbookseekstoconstructbothanintellectualgenealogyoftheideasthatrace

womenproduceaboutracialidentity,gender,andleadershipbetweenthe1890sandthe1970s,

andanintellectualgeographythatmapsthedeliberatewaysthatBlackwomenchosetotake upandtransformintellectualandphysicalspacesinserviceoftheirracialupliftprojects. IbeginthisgenealogyandgeographywiththeshortepigraphicquotethatPaulineHopkins, Boston-based journalist, novelist, and clubwoman, penned for the Colored American Magazinein1902becauseitisthefirstexplicitdefinitionoftheracewomaninprint. 3 The factthatsheofferedupthistheorizationofracewomanhood,Blackfemaleleadership,and Blackintellectualidentityinapieceinnocuouslytitled“SomeLiteraryWorkers,”makesclear theideathatBlackwomendidtheirtheorizinginunexpectedlocations.Thatassumptionguides muchofthemethodologicalapproachItakethroughoutthetext,combingthroughunexpected archivesofBlackwomen’sthoughttoconstructanintellectualgenealogyandgeographyofthis

groupofBlackwomenthinkers.WhenIinitiallyreadHopkins’sliteraryprofilesofBlack women,Ididnotexpecttofindrichandusefulsocialtheorizationsaboutracialpoliticsor racial leadership embedded inwhatappeared to be onlybiographical accounts. Itis my contentioninBeyondRespectabilitythatifweactuallywanttotakeBlackwomenseriouslyas thinkersandknowledgeproducers,wemustbegintolookfortheirthinkinginunexpected places,toexpectitsincursionsingenreslikeautobiography,novels,newsstories,medical records,organizationalhistories,publicspeeches,anddiaryentries.Wemust,astheeditorsof TowardanIntellectualHistoryofBlackWomenchargeus,“challengecommonwisdomabout where[Blackwomen’s]intellectualactivitiestakeplace”andrecognizethat“thescenesof their intellectual labor have rangedfromthe intimate spaces ofparlors,where epistolary exchangeswereproduced,tohighlypublicpodiums,wheretheoralexpressionofideasoften mixedwiththematerialdemandsofcommunities.” 4 Thus,Idrawuponan“eclecticarchive”to map and thenapplyBlackwomen’s theoryproductionto questions of gender and racial identity,racialleadership,anddebatesaboutracialadvancement. 5 Hopkins’sepigraphicformulationof“truerace-womanhood”codifiedasetofpracticesand

discussions,whichBlackfemaleraceleadershadbeenengagingsincetheearly1890s,about

whatitmeantforBlackwomentoassumethemantleofpublicraceleadershipalongside,and ofteninthesteadof,Blackmenwhowerebeingactivelyandviolentlypushedoutofthepublic sphereinthepost-Reconstructionperiod.Trueracewomanhoodstandsinstarkcontrastto whatBarbaraWelterhasfamouslycalledthe“cultoftruewomanhood.” 6 Thecultoftrue womanhood,or“domesticity,”offeredanexplicitsetofsocialexpectationsthatcircumscribed the lives ofmiddle-class white womenwithinthe domestic sphere. The ideologyoftrue womanhoodundergirdedtheracialnationalismattheheartofwhitegenderroleideology, whichdemandedthatwhitewomenreproducewhitecitizensfittopropagateideologiesof whitedominanceinserviceofleadingthenation.Indeed,FrancescaMorganarguesthat“the historyofwomenandnationalismintheearlytwentiethcenturyUnitedStatesisalsoahistory of‘racewomen,’”atermwhichappliednotjusttothewaysBlackwomenexpressed“racial fidelityandacommitmenttojustice,”butalsoto“whitewomen’sAnglo-Saxonistpride.” 7 Blackwomenleadersactivelypushedbackagainstattemptstorelegatethemtotherealmof domesticity.“Weknow,”wroteHopkins,“thatitisnot‘popular’forawomantospeakor writeinplaintermsagainstpolitical brutalities,thatwomanshouldconfineher effortsto woman’sworkinthehomeandchurch.” 8 Buttimeswerechanging.Blackwomencouldno longerlimitspeakingandwritingtoquestionsofhomeandchurch,domesticityandpiety:

Thecoloredwomanholdsauniquepositionintheeconomyoftheworld’sadvancementin1902.Beyondthe

commondutiespeculiartowoman’ssphere,thecoloredwomanmusthaveanintimateknowledgeofevery questionthatagitatesthecouncilsoftheworld;shemustunderstandthesolutionofproblemsthatinvolvethe alterationoftheboundariesofcountries,andwhichmakeandunmakegovernments. 9

Anytrueracewomanmustbeconcernednotonlywiththemoralandsocialcharacterofthe race,astheideologyoftruewomanhooddictated,butalsowiththe“intellectualcharacter”of therace.Whereasmoral andsocial character traitswereactivelyshapedbythelabor of motheringthatwhitewomenwereaskedtodointhedomesticsphere,Blackwomendidnot have the luxury of confining their advocacy for the shaping of Black moral, social, or

intellectuallifestrictlytothedomesticrealm. 10 Foronething,notionsofpublicandprivate werenotsoeasilydemarcatedforBlackpeoplewithoutlegalprotectionandenforcement. Second,postslaveryideasofBlackwomanhoodwerestillbeingfiercelycontestedwithinboth whiteandblackpublicspheres.Third,Blackfemaleraceleadersfeltthatsuchconstricted ideasaboutgenderwouldpreventthemfromdoingcriticaladvocacyworkandrefashioning publicopinionaboutBlackpeople.Hopkinsarguedthatfor“theNegrowoman,”“themore clearlysheunderstandsthegoverningprinciplesofthegovernmentunderwhichshelivesand rearsherchildren,thesurerwillbeanhonorablefutureforthewholerace.” 11 Hopkins’srace womencolleagueshadbeencarefullyandintentionallyfashioningamorepublicleadership roleforthemselvesasthinkersatthenexusoftheraceproblemandthewomanquestionsince

theearly1890s.

Explicitlythrowingoffthe parochial dictates ofthe cultoftrue womanhood, Hopkins arguedforamoreexpansiveintellectualvisionforthetrueracewoman.AnexplicitlyBlack woman–centeredformulationofracewomanhoodbecamenecessarybecauseexistingideas aboutpublicandprivatedidnotaccuratelydemarcatethesocialtermsofBlackwomanhood. Unsurprisingly,thepublicwashistoricallyconsideredamaledomain,instarkcontrasttothe private,domestic“woman’ssphere.”Andeventheseideasaboutawoman’sor domestic sphere were deeplyracialized, so that“private and domestic” was a stand-infor “white womanhood.”JeanBethkeElshtaindefinesthepublicas“theoppositeofprivate,”andasthat which“pertains tothepeople as a whole,tocommunity,or nation-wide concerns,tothe commongood,tothingsopeninsight,andtothosethingsthatmaybeusedorsharedbyall membersofthecommunity.” 12 PoliticaltheoristMaryHawkesworthconcludesthat“because onlysomemen—menofaspecificrace,class,education,andancestry—arepositionedto representthepublic,the‘public’isaraced,classed,andgenderedconcept. 13 Thus,when Blackwomenadvocatedforopportunitiestoengagetheirthoughtleadership“beyondwoman’s sphere,”theywerearguingexplicitlyfortherighttodointellectualworkinpublicspace. LucyCraftLaney,aGeorgiaschooleducatorandfounderoftheHainesInstituteinAugusta,

arguedasimilarpositionforanexpandedpublicroleforBlackwomeninan1899speech:

TheeducatedNegrowoman,thewomanofcharacterandculture,isneededintheschoolroomnotonlyinthe kindergarten,andintheprimaryandthesecondaryschool;butsheisneededinhighschool,theacademy, andthecollege.Onlythoseofcharacter andculturecandosuccessfullifting,for shewhowouldmould charactermustherselfpossessit.Notaloneintheschoolroomcantheintelligentwomanlendaliftinghand, butasapubliclecturershemaygiveadvice,helpfulsuggestions,andimportantknowledgethatwillchangea wholecommunityandstartitspeopleontheupwardway.Tobeconvincedofthegoodthatcanbedonefor humanitybythis means oneneedonlyrecallthenames ofLucyStone,MaryLivermore,Frances Harper, FrancesWillardandJulieWardHowe.TherefinedandnobleNegrowomanmayliftmuchwiththislever. 14

Nowcertainly,LucyLaney’scallforintellectualBlackwomentobepeopleof“nobility,”

“refinement,”and“culture”betraytroublingelementsofanemergingrespectabilitypoliticthat

shapedtheentranceofallBlackwomenontothepublicplatform.Itgoeswithoutsayingthatto

talkaboutearlyBlackwomenpublicintellectualsistotalkaboutaclassofelitewomenwith

unprecedentededucationalaccess.Butinourcontemporaryfeministcritiquesofrespectability

andelitistclasspolitics,oftenwedonotacknowledgethesexualvulnerabilitythatanimated

thesewomen’scallsfor“refinement.”InahistoricalmomentwhereinBlackwomenwere

forcedtoadjudicatetheirmoralrectitudeinpublic,thesexualandgenderpolicingatthecenter oftheircallsforrespectability,conservativeastheyare,emergeasareasonable,thoughnot particularlylaudable,approachtoprotectingthesanctityofBlackwomen’sbodies.Moreover, these calls for respectabilitywere meant to serve as a guard against white male sexual objectification.PartoftheworkofcultivatingthepublicplatformasasiteforBlackwomento standwasmakingthespaceassafeaspossibleforBlackwomen’sphysicalbodies,which wouldbepubliclyondisplay.Blackfemaleleaderstheorizedthepublicplatformasasitefor communitytransformationviathedispensationofusefulknowledgethattheythemselveshelped toproduce.Thatrequiredthemtoputtheirbodiesonthelineandtoconfronttheverykindsof troublingdiscoursesabouttheirsexualpromiscuitythatshapedhowpublicaudienceswould perceivethem. Thoughthetermiscontemporary,Ichoosetounderstandracewomenintellectualsaspublic intellectuals because itis mycontentionthatthe models ofracial leadership and public lecturing, in which these Black women historically engaged, created the paradigm for contemporarymodes ofBlackpublic intellectual engagement.Blackwomenthinkers have alwaysbeenpublicintellectuals,bothbecausetheycaredaboutproducingaccessibleformsof knowledgeforandwithcommunitiesinvolvedintheBlackfreedomstruggle,andbecausethe confluenceofracismandpatriarchyexemptedthemfromaccesstoacademicinstitutionsand fromtheprotectionsoftheprivatesphere.Blackwomenhaveneverhadtheluxuryofbeing privatethinkers.Thus,thoughthetermpublicintellectualisfairlycontemporary,theoriginsof practicesthatconnotepublicintellectualworkaremuchlonger.Infact,accordingtohistorian Lucindy Willis, the appearance of the term intellectual in nineteenth-century discourse “connotes a distinct shift in perspective, making the concept less theoretical and more pragmatic.”Relatedto,butdistinctfrom,thinker/philosopherslikeSocratesorVirgil,theterm, inthe nineteenthcentury, referred to individuals who “generated, applied and dispensed culture.Likegreatthinkers,[publicintellectuals]werephilosophersofsorts,buttheyseemed topossessamoredevelopedsenseofaudience.Asdidtheirpredecessors,theyviewedlifein itsbroadestcontexts—socially,politically,andeconomically—yetoftentookactiverolesin challenging contemporary social conditions.” 15 In this book, I intentionally and unapologeticallyforegroundtheintellectualworkofracewomenbecausetheythemselves spentagreatdealoftimemakingargumentsabouttheirimportanceasintellectuals.Moreover, ImakethismoveinlinewithhistoriansandbiographersofBlackwomenthinkerswhointhe lastdecadehavesoughttoforegroundthecriticalintellectuallaborthatpublicBlackwomen did in addition to their work as activists, organizers, educators, and churchwomen. Additionally,IunderstandBlackwomen’sknowledgeproductiontoencompasstherangeof placesandspaces,thoughts,speech,andwritingsthatBlackwomenengagedtobothknowand understandthemselvesandtheworldaroundthemmorefully.Inthisbook,Ifocusonthekinds ofknowledgeBlackwomenproducedaboutracialidentity,genderidentity,andgenderpolitics intheirbooks,speeches,andorganizationalwork.BecauseIfocusonwomenwhohadaccess topublicplatforms,thislimitsthescopeoftheBlackwomenknowledgeproducersunder consideration here—for example, poor and working-class Black women who produced knowledgeinotherforms.Itisnotmycontentionthatmiddle-classracewomenweretheonly or the mostimportantproducers ofracial knowledge.Rather Iargue,thatthe intellectual

contributionsofracewomenthinkersstillremaingreatlyunderstudied,oftenbecausethiswork

isincludedundertheguiseofautobiographicalwritingorwritingaboutorganizationalwork.

Shiftingfocustothesegenresofracewomen’sworkoffersnewavenuesforthinkingabouthow

theyhaveenrichedexistingbodiesofpoliticalandsocialthoughtonissuesofrace,gender,and

sexuality.

ANewSchoolofThought

Oneofthekeyquestionsthatanimatesmythinkingaboutracewomenintellectualsis,“Where andhowdidtheybecomeintellectuals?”Mostofthelate-nineteenth-centuryBlackwomen public intellectuals helped both to start and to shape critically the Black Clubwomen’s movement.Thus,inBeyondRespectability,IturntotheNational AssociationofColored Women (NACW) as a space integral to fashioning race women into intellectuals. This organizationconstitutesacriticalsiteintheintellectualgeographythatshapedtheknowledge

productionofracewomenattheturnofthetwentiethcentury.Foundedin1896,theNACW

acted as the trainingground for the firstgenerationofBlackwomenpublic intellectuals. Thoughmuchhistorical scholarship has focused onthe NACWas anactivistand social welfareorganization,ImakeacriticalpivotinthisbooktoconsidertheNACWasitsown schoolofracialthought.IdosobecausethatishowFannieBarrierWilliams,oneofthemost visibleclubwomenoftheearlytwentiethcenturyandthetheoristwhoseworkIinterrogatein chapterone,understoodtheorganization.“Thefirstthingtobenoted,”Williamsarguedinher

1901organizationalhistoryaboutthefunctionandactivitiesoftheclubs,“isthattheseclub

womenarestudentsoftheirownsocialcondition.” 16 Moreover,

theclubsthemselvesareschoolsinwhicharetaughtandlearned,moreorlessthoroughly,thenearlessons oflifeandliving.Alltheseclubshaveaprogramforstudy.Insomeofthemoreambitiousclubs,literature, musicandartarestudiedmoreorlessseriously,butinallofthemraceproblemsandsociologicalquestions directly related to the condition of the Negro race in America are the principal subjects for study and discussion. 17

Here,WilliamsarguesthattheNACWfunctionedasaschoolofsocialthoughtthatempowered local organizations tocreatetheir owncurriculaofstudyrelativetotheir specificneeds. TommyCurryarguesthat“itisoftheutmostimporttoseeBlackorganizationsasschoolsof thoughtthatdedicatedtheirresearch,inquiry,andscholarshiptowardsspecificmethodsfor investigatingandresolvingtheracequestion.” 18 Theseassertionsrequireascholarlypivotthat acknowledgesforthrightlytheintellectualimportoftheNACWasthetrainingschoolforthe firstgenerationofBlackfemalepublicintellectuals. Williams further arguedthatthere hadbeenthree major preparatoryschools for Black women’sleadership.“Churcheshavebeenandstillarethegreatpreparatoryschoolsinwhich theprimarylessonsofsocialorder,mutualtrustfulness,andunitedefforthavebeentaught,”she wrote. 19 Sherecognizedevenin1900that“thechurcheshavebeensustained,enlargedand beautifiedprincipallythroughtheorganizedeffortsoftheirwomenmembers.” 20 Moreover, women’sworkinthechurchhadtaughtthem“unityofeffortofthecommongood”and“broad socialsympathies.”Next,secretormutualaidsocieties,which“demandedahigherorderof

intelligence”thanchurchmembership,hadhelpedBlackwomentodoarangeofcarework “fortheindigent,”theorphaned,andothersinneed. 21 Thesetwogroups—thechurchandsecret societies—hadmade“coloredwomenacquaintedwiththegeneralsocialconditionoftherace andthepossibilitiesofsocialimprovement.” 22 Itshouldalsobenotedthatthesetwogroups werecriticalnodesinthecreationofwhatMarthaS.JonesreferstoasBlack“publicculture” aswell,lendingfurthercredencetoWilliams’sattempttoplacetheNACWonacontinuum withtheseinstitutions. 23 However,becauseshemadeacleardistinctionbetweenthemoral workofchurchesandthecareworkofsecretsocieties,itwouldbeimpertinenttocontinueto read the NACWmerelyas anamalgamofthese two. Instead, the NACW, inWilliams’s estimation,addedanotherdimensiontotheworkoftheseinstitutionsbycreatingasystematic ideologicalapproachtothesocialregenerationoftherace.NotonlyhadtheNACWexcerpted thechurch’sprogramofmoralinstruction,butitalsotookthelocalapproachtocareandsocial serviceworkthathadbeenpioneeredbynumerouswomen’sfraternalandmutualaidsocieties

fromthe1870sforward.Combiningtheseapproachesprovidedasystematicwaytobothmeet

localneedsandtogenerateabodyofsharedknowledgethatcreatedanationalpictureofthe stateofAfricanAmericans.TheNACWwomenactivelyembracedtheirroleascreatorsof public knowledge about African Americans in general and African American women in particular.The organizationdesireda broad role inthe intellectual reformationofpublic opinionregardingBlackpeople. WilliamsarguedthattheNACWwomanwas

therealnewwomaninAmericanlife.…Sheisneededtochangetheoldideaofthingsimplantedintheminds ofthewhiteraceandtheresustainedandhardenedintoanationalhabitbythedebasinginfluenceofslavery estimates.This womanis neededas aneducatorofpublic opinion.Sheis ahappyrefutationoftheidle insinuationsandcommonskepticismastothewomanlyworthandpromiseofthewholeraceofwomen. 24

WilliamsunapologeticallyinsinuatedBlackwomenintothediscourseofthenewwoman,a term that sought to characterize white women who were involved in the progressive

movementsattheturnofthecentury. 25 NotonlywereBlackwomennewwomen,buttheywere thereal new women,evenmoresothantheir whitecounterparts!TherolethatWilliams ascribedtoBlacknewwomenisevenmoretelling.InlanguagereminiscentofbothLucyLaney and Pauline Hopkins’s true race woman, Williams described the African American new womanas“aneducatorofpublicopinion.”Theirjobwastoshiftpublicperceptionandideas aboutAfricanAmericanwomenthroughtheirworkonthepublicstage.ThiscallforBlack womentoshiftpublicopinion,throughboththeirpristineembodimentofrespectableBlack womanhood and their choice to make visible the particular struggles and precarity that attendedtoBlackwomen’slives,exemplifiesCooper’sideasofusingembodieddiscourseas atextualanddiscursivestrategytocombatnegativeanddamagingideasaboutBlackwomen. Undoubtedly,theseideasweresteepedinmoralcondescensiontowardBlackwomenof lower-classstatus.Williamsbalkedatthetreatmentofnonelitecoloredwomenwhohad“been left to grope their wayunassisted toward a realizationof those domestic virtues, moral impulsesandstandardsoffamilyandsociallifethatarethebadgesofracerespectability.” 26

Thoughherviewsweresteepedexplicitlyinrespectabilitypolitics,shealsocritiquedmiddle-

classBlackpeoplefortheirneglectoftheBlackpoor.Moreover,shecontinued:

Therehasbeennofixedpublicopiniontowhichtheycouldappeal;noprotectionagainstthelibelousattacks upontheircharacters,andnochivalrygenerousenoughtoguaranteetheirsafetyagainstman’sinhumanityto woman.Certainitisthatcoloredwomenhavebeentheleastknown,andthemostill-favoredclassofwomen inthecountry. 27

Here,Williamsturnstothenotionofchangingpublicopinionastheanimatingforceofrace women’s“intellectualactivism.” 28 ReshapingthepublicdiscourseaboutBlackwomentopped thelistofracial prioritiesofracewomenandoftheNACW’sintellectual agenda.Black women’sstrategicdeploymentofrespectability,ontheonehand,andembodieddiscoursethat pointedtotheextremeracialandsexualvulnerabilityBlackwomenexperienced,ontheother, wascriticaltoshiftingpublicperceptionandopinionaboutthevalueofBlackwomen’slives. Thus,Laney,Williams,andothersimposedarespectabilityrequirementonthosewomen whowouldbecomeeducatorsofpublicopinion,inpartbecausetheworkrequiredanintrinsic placingoftheBlackfemalebodyondisplayforwhitepublicconsumption.Certainly,theclass policingthatanchorsrespectabilitydiscourseremainspersistentandtroubling;andIsuspectit isthereasonthatmanyofthesewomenhavebeengivenshortshriftinexistingconversations aboutBlackintellectual thought.Mostworkhas focusedonrespectabilityas a marker of problematicclasshierarchiesamongturn-of-the-twentieth-centuryAfricanAmericans.Many middle-classBlackwomenexpressedacuteanxietyabouthowthepracticesofpoorBlack womenwouldmakethemlookbad.ButIwanttosuggestthatwemovebeyondfocusingonly onthewaysthatrespectabilitydiscoursesattemptedtoinstantiateclasshierarchies. 29 Iamnot offeringsocialconditionsasanapologeticforeliteBlackwomen’sproblematicclasspolitics. Rather,Iarguethroughoutthisbookthatrespectabilitydiscoursealsoconstitutedoneofthe earliesttheorizationsofgenderwithinnewlyemancipatedBlackcommunities. Thepost-ReconstructionpushtostyleBlackpeopleasrespectablemenandwomenindexes acommunity’sattempttounderstandandarticulatewhatitmeanttobeamanorawoman.As HortenseSpillershassuggested,theMiddlePassageandchattelslaverystrippedallbutthe mostcrudegenderidentificationsfromtheBlackbody.Totheextent,Spillersremindsus,that the“New-world,diasporicplight[ofBlackpeople]markedatheftofthebody.…[W]elose atleastgenderdifferenceintheoutcome,andthefemalebodyandthemalebodybecomea

territoryofculturalandpoliticalmaneuver,notatallgender-related,gender-specific.” 30 “The materializedscene ofunprotectedfemale flesh—offemale flesh‘ungendered’” createdan indeterminatesocialterrainforthearticulationofBlackgenderidentity. 31 AlthoughIthink muchoftheviolationandviolencethatshapedBlacklifeduringenslavementwaspredicated

onadenialofaccesstogendernorms—whichistosaythatmuchofthetreatmentwasgender-

specific(e.g.,denyingBlackwomentheprotectionsofwomanhood) or,attheveryleast, specific to the biological sexof the person—Spillers’s larger observationis instructive, namelythatenslavementwaspredicatedonadialecticaldoingandundoingofgenderthat frequentlyrenderedtheBlackbodyaspaceofindeterminategenderterrain. TheBlackfemalebody,becauseitwastheconduitthroughwhichenslavementpassedtoher

descendants, was historically deemed the groundzero site for the propagation of Black inferiority.KatherineMcKittrickarguesthattheownershipandexploitationofBlackwomen duringslaveryhas geographic implications, for suchpractices “territorialized the body,” making it “publicly and financially claimed, owned, and controlled by an outsider.

Territorializationmarksandnamesthescaleofthebody,turningideasthatjustifybondageinto corporeal evidence ofracial difference.” 32 McKittrickcontinues, clarifyingthat“once the racial-sexual body is territorialized, it is marked as decipherable and knowable—as subordinate,inhuman,rape-able,deviant,procreative,placeless.” 33 Butthetermsuponwhich Black bodies came to be gendered (and ungendered) were imprecise, capricious, and contingent, suchthatmuchofthe political projectofReconstructionamongBlackpeople becamepreoccupiedwithcreatinglegiblecategoriesofmanhood,womanhood,andchildhood thatwouldmakeclearthe“undisputeddignity”ofBlackpeople. So race women, engaging in the project of what Hazel Carby called “reconstructing womanhood,” confronted a social terrainof gender for the Blackbodythat was wholly indeterminateanddiscursivelyillegible.Thus,manyoftheintellectualconcernsoftheNACW School focused on making Black women epistemologically significant by addressing the problematic ways that Black women were (un)known and publicly conceived in social discourse.Racewomentookitas their political andintellectual worktogiveshapeand meaningtotheBlackbodyinsocialandpoliticalterms,tomakeitlegibleasanentitywith infinitevalueandsocialworth.Indoingso,theyhopedtocreatelivabletermsuponwhich Blackwomencouldbebothknownepistemologically,anduponwhichBlackwomencould liveandengagesocially.SowhenracewomenlikeCoopertalkedabouttheraceasbeingonly twenty-oneyearsold,sheandothersmadetheliteralclaimthattheBlackperson(andformsof Blackpersonhood),whichemergedafterEmancipation,constitutedanentirelynewconception ofBlacklife,Blackgender,andthehuman.Moreover,whensheandherNACWcounterparts insisted onusingembodied discourse to make the Blackfemale bodylegible, suchacts attemptedtocounteractanobtrusivehistoryof“ungendered,”or“de-gendered,”Blackfemale fleshshapedbyexperiencesoftraumaandviolence. BeyondRespectabilitymakesthecriticalintellectualpivottowardviewingtheNACWas itsownschoolofthoughtbecausesuchamovemakestheNACWvisibleasakeyintellectual site in which race women theorized notions of both gender and sexuality. Much of the scholarshiponracewomenhasfocusedsomuchontheunsavorynatureoftheclasspolitics thateliteandaspiringBlackssoughttoimposeontheircounterpartswithoutfullyexamining howrespectabilityideologyprovidedafoundationforarticulatingwhataBlackwomanor Black man actually was. 34 For instance, E. Frances White’s groundbreaking book Dark ContinentofOurBodies:BlackFeminismandthePoliticsofRespectabilityfirstturnedour attentiontowhatshetermedthe“double-edged”natureofthepoliticsofrespectability.She noted that while Black club and churchwomen used respectability as a “discourse of resistance,” their investment in social propriety often unwittingly authorized negative stereotypesaboutBlackpeople. 35 ScholarsofBlackwomen’shistoryhavereadtheNACWas theprimarylocationforthecreationanddispensationoftheideologiesofrespectabilityand dissemblance. 36 However,BeyondRespectabilityjoinsagrowingbodyofcriticalworkin Blackwomen’shistoryandliterarystudiesthatseekstocomplicatethenarrativeofthepolitics of respectabilityamongBlackwomen. Susana Morris has pointed to what she calls the “paradoxofrespectability,”adesiretoachieverespectabilityinthefaceofracistdenigrations ofBlackhumanitywhilebeingconfrontedoverandoveragainnotonlywiththewaythat

structuresofpowerholdrespectabilityoutofreachformanyBlackpeopleintheUnitedStates, butalsoitslimitsasastrategyforachievingfreedom. 37 DanielleMcGuirehaswrittenabout thewaysthatrapecompelledBlackwomentoovercomethedictatesofdissemblanceand respectabilityduringtheCivilRightsMovementandtotestifypubliclytotheviolencethey experienced.Butthesepublictestimonialshaveamuchlongerhistory,asBlackwomencanbe foundattestingtoviolenttreatmentpubliclyandinprintthroughoutthenineteenthcentury. 38 Much of the contemporary foothold that respectability discourses have in Black communitieshaseverythingtodowiththefactthatriddingourselvesofrespectabilityentirely wouldmeancompletelyupendingthegender systemthatBlackpeople,particularlyBlack women, theorized and created after Reconstruction. We have failed to think through the implicationsofrespectabilityanddissemblanceaspartofagendersystemtheorizedbyBlack intellectualsbecause,politically,thisgendersystemisrootednotonlyinaconservativeform ofclasspolitics,butalsoinaconservativeformofsexualpolitics.DarleneClarkHineargues that“atthe core ofessentiallyeveryactivityofthe NACW’s individual members was a concernwithcreatingpositiveimagesofBlackwomen’ssexuality.” 39 Redeemingimagesof Blackwomen’ssexualitywasinarguablyacoreconcernoftheNACWSchoolofThought. However,becauseearlyscholarshipinBlackwomen’shistorycollapsedideasofgenderand sexuality, rather thandecouplingthemas later feministscholarship has done, our strident critiqueoftheNACW’sattempttorestyleBlackwomen’ssexualityhasmissedthewaysthat respectabilityanddissemblancewerealsopartofabroadersystemofattemptingtocreate legiblegendercategoriesforBlackmenandwomen. ThatgendersystemmadeBlackwomen’sandmen’sliveslegibleashumansratherthanas chattelandhassubsequentlycreateddeepaffectiveinvestmentsinBlackcommunitiesoverthe

last150years.Thus,wecannotonlyseerespectabilitypoliticsasaproblematicmodeof

articulatingclassidentity,thoughitcertainlyisthat.Itisalsoacomplicated,contingent,and (rightfully) contested mode of articulating Black gender identity vis-à-vis the social resuscitationofBlackwomen’ssexualmorality.Infact,alloftheNACWintellectualsdidnot subscribetorespectabilityasawholesaleideologyforracialprogress.Inonemoment,Mary ChurchTerrell, Fannie Barrier Williams, LucyCraft Laney, and others evinced the most conservativekindsofideasaboutthevalueofrespectabilityinBlackwomen’slives.Inother moments,however,clubwomenfollowedinthefootstepsofAnnaJuliaCooper,deploying formsofembodieddiscoursethatoffereduptheBlackfemalebodyforsocialconsiderationon their ownterms. Inchaptersone and two ofthis book, myexaminations ofthe political theorizingoftwooftheNACWleaders—FannieBarrierWilliamsandMaryChurchTerrell— revealafarmorecomplexpictureofthegenderandsexualideologiesthatemergefromthe NACWSchoolthanasingularlyfocusedsetofinvestmentsinrespectabilitypoliticsandthe cultureofdissemblance. TurningtotheplaceswhereBlackwomenmadeBlackfemale–embodiedexperiencevisible complicatesarespectabilitynarrativethatcaststhemaswhollyparochialandgivesBlack womenthinkerscreditforthecomplexityoftheirtheorizationsofbothraceandgenderidentity. Moreover,sincethesecomplexadjudicationsofBlackgenderidentityhappenedinthecontext ofBlackwomen’sformalorganizationalandintellectualwork,wemustapproachtheNACW inamannerbefittingofitsintellectualfunctioninBlackcommunities—whichistosay,asa

schoolofthought.UnderthevalenceoftheNACW,racewomenactedastheoreticiansofBlack

genderidentity.Inthefirsttwochaptersofthebook,Idelineatetherangeofconcernsabout

genderandsexualitythatemergefromtheNACWSchool.Inthelasttwochapters,ofthebook,

Iconsiderthewaysthatmid-tolate-twentieth-centuryBlackwomenintellectualsrespondto,

revise,orrejecttheseideas.Theideasaboutgenderandracialidentityputforwardbythe

NACWSchoolhavehadaninordinatelylongshelflife,havinglaidthefoundationfordebates

wellintothetwenty-firstcenturyaboutwhatitmeanstoproperlyperformandinhabitthe

categoriesofBlackmanhoodandBlackwomanhood.

MovingbeyondtheGreatRaceManNarrative

Racewomenwerenottheonlypeopleinvestedintheorizingarobustandcleardefinitionof racialleadership.LocalBlackcommunitiesalsohadstrongopinionsonthematterandjoined

innamingtheirexpectationsforraceleaders.Inanextensivefootnoteintheir1945book,

BlackMetropolis,St.ClairDrakeandHoraceCaytonincludedadiscussionofracemenand racewomen.Theraceman,theyargued,“isonetypeofRaceHero,”apersonwho“‘fightsfor therace,’andis‘allforTheRace.’” 40 DrakeandCaytonfounditnoteworthy,however,that race menand race womenwere perceived verydifferentlywithinthe community: “It is interestingtonotethatBronzevilleissomewhatsuspiciousgenerallyofitsRaceMen,buttends to be more trustful ofthe Race Woman.” 41 Deemed more “sincere,” communitymembers alternatelydescribedtheracewomanfigureas“‘forceful,outspoken,andfearless,agreat advocateofracepride,’‘devotedtotherace,’andasonewho‘studiestheconditionsofthe people.’”“TheRaceisuppermostinheractivities,”theycontinued,sheis“knownbythe speechesshemakes,”andfinally,“shechampionstherightsofNegroes.”CaytonandDrake observedthattheRaceWomanhadbeen“idealizedasafighter”andthat“herroleas‘uplifter’ seem[ed]tobeacceptedwithlessantagonismthaninthecaseoftheRaceMan.”Theserich locallybased, communitydescriptions of Blackfemale leaders confirmthat manyBlack communitiesinthetwentiethcenturyplacedgreatvalueontheworkofracewomen.They indicatethatfiftyyearsafterracewomenfirstcametotheorizeandembodytheracewoman archetype,racewomenasleadershipfiguresremainedcriticallyimportanttothewayslocal Blackcommunitiesunderstoodthemselvesandtheirprospectsforracialadvancement.Though thesefleetingmomentsofcelebrationdidnotexcluderacewomenfromencounteringsexism andattemptsatsilencing,communitiesvestedracewomenwithatallandpublicordertofill whenitcametotheprojectofracialuplift. YetwhenscholarstellthestoriesthatcompriseBlackintellectualhistory,theypersistin usingaGreatRaceManframeworktoguidethenarrative.Thisstudy,BeyondRespectability, is driveninpartbythe desire tochallenge the studyofGreatRace Menas the primary paradigmaticframethroughwhichscholarsunderstandAfricanAmericanintellectualhistory andAfricanAmericanknowledgeproduction. 42 Suchanapproachobscuresthewaysinwhich thetermandcategoryoftheintellectualisbothhistoricallycontingentanddeeplycontested ideologicalterrainamongAfricanAmericanwomenandmen.Moreover,intellectualworkand thematerialconditionsthataffectknowledgeproductionwere,andaredeeplycontouredby, thepoliticsofracialmanhoodandtheattendantmasculinistgenderregimesthathavepersisted

acrosstime,althoughtovaryingdegrees,withinBlackcommunities. AlthoughBlackwomenhaveprofessedandproclaimedintricate,compelling,andimportant ideasaboutthestateofBlackpeopleinthepublic—sincePhillisWheatleybeganwriting poetry—whenthetermBlackpublicintellectualisused,onlyalimitednumberofpeople come immediately to mind. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there is Frederick Douglass(butnothismentees,MaryChurchTerrellandIdaB.Wells);BookerT.Washington (butnothiswife,MargaretMurrayWashington);W.E.B.DuBois(butnothiscontemporaries, AnnaJuliaCooperorFannieBarrierWilliams);E.FranklinFrazier,MartinLutherKing(but nottheircontemporaries,AnnaArnoldHedgemanandPauliMurray);andHaroldCruse(but nothiscontemporary,ToniCadeBambara).ThehistoryofBlackpublicintellectualismisa historyofracemen. IthinkhereofaspateofBlackintellectualhistorytextswrittenoverthelastdecade,which continuetonarratethemajorideasthathaveundergirdedtheBlackfreedomstrugglethrough twodominantframes.First,W.E.B.DuBoispredominatesasthecentralintellectualfigureof thelatenineteenthandearlytwentiethcenturies.Second,hissupportingcastisalwaysmen. RepresentativetextsincludeJonathanHolloway’sConfrontingtheVeil:AbramHarris,Jr.,E.

FranklinFrazier,andRalphBunche,1919–1941,EbenMiller’sBornalongtheColorLine:

The 1933 Amenia Conference and the Rise of a National Civil Rights Movement, and ZacheryWilliams’sInSearchoftheTalentedTenth:HowardUniversityPublicIntellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, 1926–1970. Despite laudable attempts by both Miller and WilliamstosubstantivelyincludeandmakeclearthatBlackwomenshapedthesocialenvirons ofBlackintellectualproductionintheearlytwentiethcentury,thesetextssimplydonotgofar enoughindisruptinganintellectualhistorynarrativelyenamoredofracemen.Forinstance, whileWilliamsmentionsmanywomenthatwereapartofwhathetermsthe“HowardPublic Intellectuals,”hesayslittleabouttheirintellectualcontributions,andmoreabouttheirwork challengingsexismandrecruitingmorewomentotrainatHoward. 43 PauliMurray,astudentat HowardduringtheheydayofHoward’spublicintellectualdominanceandakeyfigureunder considerationinthisbook,createdthetermJaneCrowspecificallytorespondtothesexistand homophobicformsofintellectualexclusionthatsheexperiencedasalawstudentthere. Morerecently,MartinKilson’sTransformation of the African American Intelligentsia revealshowdeeplyentrenchedtheDuBoisiannarrativeistoourframingofBlackknowledge

production.BasedonKilson’s2012DuBoislecturesatHarvard,Transformationreturnsto

theDuBois–Washingtondebatesastheparadigmthroughwhichtounderstandkeyissuesin Black political thought in the twentieth century. Recycling the well-worn framework of Washington,theaccommodationist,andDuBois,thecivilrightsstrategist,Kilsonarguesthat Washington and Du Bois were responsible for “producing two competing leadership methodologiestoguidethetransformationoftwentieth-centuryAfricanAmericansociety.” 44 Many scholars have already problematized the drawing of strict lines of ideological demarcationbetweenWashingtonandDuBois.Yet,thisnarrativepersists.Butwhatismore troublingthanthemischaracterizationofDuBoisisthewaythatthisnarrativeperpetuatesthe wholesale erasure of these men’s female colleagues. Race women like Fannie Barrier WilliamsandMaryChurchTerrelldisrupttheneatideologicalboundariesthatKilsondraws betweenWashingtonandDuBois.Williams,forinstance,wasanardentBookerite,butalsoa

strong defender of training Black women in communities to be intellectuals and social theorists.WilliamsbelievedthatBlackwomencouldbetrainedtobethinkersandtheorists about their own social condition, a critical dissension from the kinds of training that WashingtonthoughtBlackcommunitiesshouldhaveinthemove“upfromslavery.”Inthecase ofTerrell,shemovedwithaplombacrossthesocialandpoliticalcirclesofbothWashington andDuBois,managingtogaintherespectofboth.Shewroteandthoughtacrossthebreadthof hercareerabouteffectivestrategiesofactivism,forgingauniquepath,asIwillarguein chapter two, between respectability and agitation. Neither woman fits neatly into the overdrawnWashington–DuBois binary. Infact, interrogationof Williams’s and Terrell’s intellectualcontributionsdisruptsourdesiretocontinuetoreadtheearlytwentiethcenturyon Washington’sandDuBois’stermsatall. OneofthekeywaysthatBlackwomenthinkershaveactivelycombatedtheGreatRaceMan narrativeacrosstimeistocompiletheirownlists–theirowngenealogiesofBlackwomen thinkers.Idonotthinkoftheselistsasmerelists.Instead,thisintentionalcallingofnames createdanintellectualgenealogyforracewomen’sworkandwasapracticeofresistance againstintellectualerasure.ThewayHopkinsusedherbiographicalprofilesofBlackwomen literaryworkerstodotheworkofBlackwomen’sintellectualhistorypointsustoimportant methodological approaches amongBlackwomenthinkers well into the twentiethcentury. Hopkins’sprofilesofBlackwomenliteraryworkersparticipateinalongpracticeofwhatI termlisting,inwhichAfricanAmericanwomencreatedlistsofprominent,qualifiedBlack womenforpublicconsumption.TheselistssituateBlackwomenwithinalonglineageofprior womenwhohavedonesimilarkindsofwork,andnamingthosewomengrantsintellectual, political,and/orculturallegitimacytotheBlackwomanspeakingtheirnames.Listingalso refersinthefashionindustrytoanedgeproducedonapieceoffabricandappliedtoaseamto preventitfromunraveling.Insimilarfashion,Blackwomen’slongtraditionsofintellectual productionconstituteacriticaledge,withoutwhichthebroaderhistoryofAfricanAmerican knowledgeproductionwouldunravelandcomeapartattheseams. Hopkins’slistbeganwithPhillisWheatley.ThroughWheatley,Hopkinsmappedthecourse of Black women’s literary and intellectual production since the era of the American Revolution,pointingtoalongandprominentlineageinherintellectualgenealogyofrace women thinkers. She demonstrated through Wheatley that Black women’s intellectual developmentwascoterminouswiththedevelopmentoftheAmericannation-state.Herother profilesincludedGertrudeFortuneGrimke,IdaB.Wells,MaryChurchTerrell,andFrances Harper.Inherownlist,Hopkins,likeLaney,madesuretospeaktotheintellectualcharacterof thesewomen.Wheatleywascharacterizedasan“intellectualprodigy.”GertrudeGrimkehad an“intellectualcountenance”anda“giftedmind.”Wells,shenoted,was“anacknowledged poweruponthepublicplatform.”Inparttwooftheseries,sheheapedeffusivepraiseon Frances Harper whose “seventeen years of public speaking” had “moved mountains of prejudice.”ShealsocelebratedtherisingstarofMaryChurchTerrell,who,havingstepped downfromherpostasthefirstpresidentoftheNationalAssociationofColoredWomenjust oneyearprior,hadbecome“highly…thoughtofasapublicspeakeronracequestionsand women’swork.”FinallysheprofiledMaryAnnShaddCary,ateacher,newspaperpublisher, andattorney,as“abrilliantspeaker,readyandwittyindebate.” 45 Inthisregard,Hopkins

followedmorethanadecadeofworkbyracewomenwhohadbeenconstructinglistsoftheir best,mostqualifiedwomen.AnnaJuliaCooper’s“listofchieftansintheservice”included Frances Harper, Sojourner Truth, Amanda Smith, Sarah Woodson Early, Martha Briggs, CharlotteFortin[sic]Grimke,HallieQuinnBrown,andFannieJacksonCoppin. 46 Gertrude

Mossell’s1894book,WorkoftheAfro-AmericanWoman,includedprofilesofBlackwomen

journalists,poets,novelists,and“ourrepresentativesattheWorld’sFair”alongsideherown shortessaysandpoems. Giventhe importantpolitical functionofBlackwomen’s lists, we cannotdismiss this practiceasmereracialself-congratulation.Itisclearfromaclosereadingofanyofthese biographical profiles thatracewomenusedlistingnotonlyas apracticetocombattheir historicalexclusionbutalsotoresistsexism,theorizeaboutracialpolitics,andevengesture towardthekindsofpoliticalprioritiesthatmatteredbasedonthefieldsofworkoftheBlack womentheyhighlighted.Morepointedly,theselistschallengedtheGreatRaceManleadership model(andtheliberalwhiteleadershipmodel)byofferingprofilesofqualified,talentedrace womenwhocouldlead. 47

InWanttoStartaRevolution?RadicalWomenintheBlackFreedomStruggle(2009),the

editors Dayo F. Gore, Jeanne Theoharis, and Komozi Woodard address the broad historiographicaltendencytotreatwomenas“subsidiaryorsymbolicfigures.”“Ratherthan examiningwomenaspivotalhistoricalactors,”theynote,“fartoomanyofthesestudiessimply mentionvariouswomenaskeyparticipantsandnotethedamageofsexismandtherelevanceof gender politics.” 48 The scholarlytendencyto be preoccupied withmentioninggender and sexualpoliticsoverandaboveasubstantiveengagementwiththeintellectualcontributionsof manyBlackfemaleleadersismirroredinanalysesofthewomenthemselves.Blackwomen’s intellectual contributions are frequentlyreduced to the terrainof the gender intervention, whereintheprimarythrustofBlackwomen’sintellectualworkiscallingoutsexism.Certainly, BlackwomendidspendtimechallengingBlackmalesexismbecausetheyhadto.Butthese womenwentfarbeyondmerelypointingoutthatgendermatters.

KristinWatersandCarolConaway’sBlackWomen’sIntellectualTraditions(2007)asksus

torevisitthesignificanceoftheintellectualthoughtofwomenlikeMariaStewart,Frances Harper,AnnaJuliaCooper,andIdaB.Wells. 49 WatersandConaway’swork“servesasa correctivetotheprevailingviewthatnolong-standingBlackwomen’sintellectualtraditions exists.” 50 TheeditorsofTowardAnIntellectualHistoryofBlackWomen(2015)notethat “mostscholarshiponblackwomen[has]focusedontheirworkasactivists,ordiscussedthem as the objects of intellectual activity, but they rarely receive attention as producers of knowledge.” 51 Although groundbreaking works of Black feminist scholarship like Paula Giddings’sWhen and Where I Enter (1984), Hazel Carby’s Reconstructing Womanhood (1986), together with Patricia Hill Collins’s Black Feminist Thought (1990) laid the groundwork for taking Black women seriously as thinkers and theorists, Black feminist theorizinghasreachedastateofcriticalinertiainitsengagementwiththeintellectualworkof earlyBlackwomentheorists.Whitearguedthatthisinertiawassomewhatvisiblemorethana decadeagowhenshecalledforblackfeministsto“engageeachother’sideasmoreseriously,” andtostopworryingaboutwhether“racistswerelookingtorevealourfailures.” 52 Stillmuch

oftheinertiahaspersisted.Forinstance,VivianMay’sAnnaJuliaCooper,VisionaryBlack

Feminist(2007)istheonlybook-lengthscholarlyworkonCoopertocriticallyengageher

entirebodyofintellectualwork,includingherbookofessaysVoicefromtheSouth,alongside

twodoctoraldissertations,andahostofothershortessays.May,togetherwithKarenBaker-

Fletcher, whose book contextualized Cooper’s contributions to womanist theology, have rescued her fromthe problemofwhatMaycalls “bodilyhypervisibility” butintellectual obscurity. 53 BecauseMay’sworkresistsabiographicalimperativeandfocusesineachchapter onthebodyofCooper’sthought,itexistsasasingulartypeofin-depthintellectualengagement ofa Blackwomanintellectual. Additionally, muchofthe critical workonBlackwomen thinkers like Claudia Jones, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Barrier Williams, Eslanda Robeson,RosaParks,andAnnaArnoldHedgemanarecriticalbiographies. 54 Althoughthis bookisindebtedtotheintellectualfoundationslaidbymanyoftheseworks,whichdotake greatcaretoengagetheintellectualcontributionsofthewomenunderstudy,thesebiographies areboundinmanyrespectsbythelimitsofbiographyasagenre.Rarelyamongmalethinkers isthepresenceofacriticalbiographytheprecursortoengagingthemalethinkerastheorist. ButinBlackfeministtheory,frequentlyBlackwomenhavetobeestablishedas“somebody” beforethetheoreticalimportoftheircontributionsentersthescholarlynarrativeinasignificant way. Considering the ways in which otherwise respectable, educated, middle-class, liberal BlackwomenrefiguretheterrainofBlackgender,Blackmilitancy,andBlackqueerness,this workaugmentsagrowingbodyofscholarshipthatlocatesBlackradicalismintheworkof Blackwomenlaboractivists. 55 ThestoryofseriousBlackwomen’sintellectualthoughtisnot solelytheprovinceofBlackwomenontheradicalleft.Whileelevatingthestoriesofradical leftBlackwomendemonstratesthepitfallsoffocusingonrespectableracialeliteslikemanyof thewomenunderconsiderationinthisbook,again,ourcontemporarycommitmenttorejecting the ideology of middle-class respectability should not foreclose our engagement with significant sites of Blackwomen’s knowledge productioninthe nineteenthand twentieth centuries.

AProcessionofChapters

Inchapterone,IexpandtheintellectualgeographyIammappinginBeyondRespectabilityby

examiningtheNationalAssociationofColoredWomen(NACW)asasiteofBlackfemale

knowledgeproduction.Inparticular,IusetheworkofFannieBarrierWilliams,aChicago-

basedclubwoman,tomapmanyofthekeyintellectualinterventionsoftheNACWasaschool ofsocialthought.DrawingonWilliams’stheorizationofwhatshecallsorganizedanxiety,I takeupandcriticallyexamineherclaimthattheNACWwasresponsibleforcreating“race publicopinion”and,byextension,givingshapeandformtoanemergentBlackpublicsphere. Asaconcept,organizedanxietypoliticizestheemotionallivesofBlackwomenandconstitutes onemoreiterationofthewaysthatracewomeninvokedembodieddiscourseintheirpublic intellectual work. I also examine her invocation of a discourse that I term American peculiarity,akindofoppositionaldiscoursechallengingclaimsofAmericanexceptionalism. Finally,Iinterrogateherconceptofracialsociality,asophisticatedwaytothinkaboutideasof

racialunityandsocialconnectionsbetweenAfricanAmericansofdifferentgeographicand classbackgrounds.Williamswasaformidablepoliticaltheorist,who,throughherworkinthe NACW,introducedarichconceptualmilieuthroughwhichtothinkaboutBlackpolitics,Black organizations,andgenderpoliticsinthelatenineteenthcentury. Inchaptertwo,IseektorecuperateMaryChurchTerrellasacriticaltheoristofBlack racialuplift.ThefirstPresidentoftheNACW,Terrellwentontohaveasixty-yearcareerin Civil Rights activism. This chapter moves across the span of her career, mapping her

developmentofaconceptcalled“dignifiedagitation,”whichsheintroducesina1913speech.

Shereturnstothisformulationthroughouthercareer,andIarguethatthisideaofdignified agitationisonethatshebothlearnedandpropagatedaspartoftheNACWschoolofthought. Butitalsoactsasabridgeconcept,andshe,asabridgefiguretoCivilRights–eraBlack womenintellectuals,whobothrespectedtheNACWschoolofthoughtandsoughttomove beyonditincriticalways.BecauseofthedeliberatewaysthatTerrellwroteaboutherloveof dancinginherautobiography,Ialsoconsiderinthischapterthewaysinwhichsheispartofa genealogy of Black women’s pleasure politics, even though the current Black feminist discourseonpleasuretypicallyfocusesonblueswomeninthistimeperiod.BecauseTerrellis consideredoneoftheforemostproselytizersofrespectability,aturntowardherarticulationof pleasurepoliticsrichlycomplicatesthemannerinwhichwereadherasatheoristofracial resistanceandgenderprogressivism. Inchapterthree,IturntotheworkofPauliMurray,oneoftheyoungactiviststhatTerrell

mentored.Inthe1940s,MurrayenrolledatHowardUniversityLawSchoolandwentonto

graduateastheonlywomanandtopstudentinherclass.Inthe1930s,theconvergenceof

severalimportantBlackmaleintellectualsatHowardUniversity,includingAbramHarris,E. FranklinFrazier,andRalphBunche,hadcementedanewformalmodeloftheacademically

trainedBlackmalepublicintellectual.WhenMurrayenrolledinthe1940s,sheexperienced

greatsexismfromtheseBlackmaleintellectuals.ShetermedtheirtreatmentofherJaneCrow. Whileshewentontohaveastoriedcareerasalegalexpert,Episcopalpriest,poet,and writer,allofwhichplaceherfirmlyinthetraditionoftheracewoman,heridentityasbotha

womanandqueerpersoninthe1940sand1950scollidedwiththeHowardmodelofpublic

intellectual work.Thischapter bringstogether Murray’stimeandtrainingatHoward,her archives,andanexaminationofhertwoautobiographiestosuggestthatherconceptofJane Crowgrewoutofthecollisionofrace-basedsexualpoliticsandlimitedideasamongBlack menaboutwhocouldprovideintellectualleadershipforBlackpeople.Moreover,JaneCrow exposed the heterosexist proclivities of Black public leadership traditions, and offers a frameworkforthinkingabouthowBlackwomennegotiatedgenderandsexualpoliticsevenas theydevotedtheirlivestotheorizingnewstrategiesforracialuplift. ChapterfourreturnstothequestionofwhatitmeanstobeaBlackwomanintellectualby

interrogatingtheclaimsinanarticleinEbonyMagazinein1966called“Problemsofthe

NegroWomanIntellectual.”Giventhefermentofracialcrisesinthe1960s,thischapterargues

thatmuchlikethetransitionalperiodofthe1890s,thetransitionfromCivilRightstoBlack

PowerwasmarkedbyatensionovertherolesthatBlackwomenwouldplay,notonlyas political activists, but as intellectual leaders. Thus Harold Cruse’s Crisis of the Negro IntellectualerasedalongandsignificanthistoryofBlackwomen’sintellectuallaborinorder

tosustainhisnarrativeofracialcrisis.WhatreallyseemstobeincrisisarethetermsofBlack masculinity.IreadToniCadeBambara’sbookofessaysBlackWomanasacriticalcorrective toCruse’sassertionsbecauseBlackWomanpressesthecaseforBlackwomen’scentralityas thought leaders and public intellectuals inracial justice struggles, and Bambara and her comrades approachthesamepolitical momentas anopportunityfor creativityaroundthe articulationofnewmodesofwhatshetermsBlackhoodratherthanembracingthenarrativeof crisis.Inmanyways,heranthologyandthefeministanthologiesthatcomeafteritexpandon Blackwomen’sintellectualpracticeoflistingfromthenineteenthcentury.Ineveryperiod whereBlackcommunitiesstruggledtofindtheirthoughtleaders,Blackwomenalwaysnamed thewomendoingthework,butusuallyreceivelittlecreditforit.Bythelatetwentiethcentury, theselistsbecamefullanthologiesofBlackwomen’sthinkingaboutrace,gender,andpolitics. ThischaptermakesclearthatthestruggletobeknownandtohavetherangeofBlackwomen’s experiencesproperlyarticulatedinthepublicsphereisarecurringstruggleforBlackwomen thinkers.Atthesametime,thesewomenengageinarangeofcreativepracticestomakeBlack women’sliveslegibleinpublicdiscourse. Liketheworksoflate-nineteenth-andearly-twentieth-centuryBlackwomenintellectuals, BeyondRespectabilityproffersitsownkindoflistofBlackwomenpublicintellectuals.Butit isjustonelistoutofmanythathaveyettobeconstructed.Ichosethesewomennotonly becauseoftheiroverlookedorunderstudiedintellectualcontributions,butbecausetheyare linkedtogetherthroughtheirwork.AnnaJuliaCooper,FannieBarrierWilliams,MaryChurch Terrell, and other nineteenth-centuryBlackwomenwho make cameos inthis bookwere colleagues,whoinmanycaseskneweachother.MaryChurchTerrellisofferedhereasan ideologicalbridgebetweentheearlyracewomenandlateroneslikePauliMurrayandToni CadeBambara.TerrellandMurraymetwhiledoingdesegregationcampaigninginWashington,

D.C.,inthe1940s,andTerrellwasalwaysamongMurray’sownlistsofinfluentialBlack

leaders.MurrayherselfwasconnectedwiththeadventoftheBlackfeministmovementofthe

1970sandwasakeylegalandsocialtheorist,alongsidecolleagueslikeToniCadeBambara.

TherearemanymapsandlinkagesthatcouldbedrawnwhentellingthestoriesofBlack women intellectuals. This is one intellectual map, offering one set of geographic and genealogicalroutesthatcanbetakentomoreclearlyunderstandthelongandrichhistoryof AfricanAmericanwomen’sknowledgeproduction.Myhopeisthatthismap,thisgenealogy, leadsusall,asHopkinsforesaw,inluminousandunexpecteddirections.

CHAPTER1

OrganizedAnxiety

TheNationalAssociationofColoredWomenandthe

CreationoftheBlackPublicSphere

Theclubmovement…isnothinglessthantheorganizedanxietyofwomenwho havebecomeintelligentenoughtorecognizetheirownlowsocialconditionand strongenoughtoinitiatetheforcesofreform.

—FannieBarrierWilliams(1900)

n1899,theNACWheldastoriedsecondbiennialmeetinginChicago,onethatcementedthe

I presenceoftheAssociationasaformidableracialadvocacyorganization. 1 Bycustom,racial organizationsoftenheldmultipleorganizationalmeetingsinonecitytocutdownontravel costs.Thatyear,themeetingoccurredaroundthesametimeasthemeetingoftheNational Afro-American Council, one of the forerunners of the National Association for the AdvancementofColoredPeople(NAACP).Aftertheconventions,W.E.B.DuBoiswrotea shortnewspaperarticlecomparingthe“TwoNegroConventions.”DuBoisheapedpraise uponthefemaleconvention-goersfortheirphysicalbeauty,notingthe“varyinghuesoffemale costumescontrastingwiththeinfinitevarietyincolorandtintofskin[and]thepredominance ofthesoftSouthernaccent.”Hewasespeciallyappreciativeofpapersgivenatthewomen’s meetingon“equal moral standardsfor menandwomen,”“theconvictleasesystem,”and “practicalclubwork.”Ofparticularimportanceinallpaperswastheprimarythemeof“the necessityofworkamongchildren.” 2 Then,heturnedhisattentiontothefirstmeetingoftheAfro-AmericanCouncil.Henoted that“theCouncilwasafardifferentbodyfromtheAssociation;itsmembersweremostlymale, itsscopeandaimswerewider,andinitsattendanceitwasmorefaithfullyrepresentativeof therankandfileofAmericannegroes.…[I]tscandidearnestnessandfaithfulstrivingmadeit afarmorereliablereflexofthementalattitudeofthemillionsitrepresented.” 3 InDuBois’s estimation, the Afro-American Council, in its vigorous conversations about confronting lynching,debatesovertheGreatMigration,andbattlesoverleadership,seemedtobemore relevanttotheconcernsoftheraceasawhole,withtheCouncilrepresenting,ashenoted, millions.Andyet,hisowncrudecharacterizationandinappropriateeroticizationofhisfemale peersindicatethathisjudgmentswererootedinapoliticsofracialmanhoodthatworkedto confine Black women’s participation to work traditionally understood as feminine and therefore intellectually unserious. Moreover, he understood that work as being of less importancetothe“broader”visionbeingcreatedbyracemen. Thoughsheneverusedhisname,FannieBarrierWilliamstookDuBois’scharacterization oftheNACWtotaskinherarticle,“TheClubMovementamongColoredWomeninAmerica.” PublishedoriginallyinanambitiouscompendiumentitledANewNegroforaNewCentury:

AnAccurateandUp-to-DateRecordoftheUpwardStrugglesoftheNegroRace(1900),the

essay, unlike a traditional organizational history, attempted to make sociological and

intellectualsenseoftheworkoftheNACW.Init,shearguedfirstthattheNACWhadmade greatprogressincreating“publicfaithinthesustainedvirtueandsocialstandards”ofcolored women. 4 Asthischapter’sepigraphattests,WilliamscharacterizedtheClubMovementasan outgrowthofthe“organizedanxietyofwomen,”aresultoftheirrecognitionoftheir“low socialcondition”andtheirdesiretoreformit.TheClubMovementhadalsohelpedBlack womenbuildracial self-esteem: “tofeel thatyouaresomethingbetter thanaslave,or a descendantofanex-slave,tofeelthatyouareaunitinthewomanhoodofagreatnationanda greatcivilization,isthebeginningofself-respectandtherespectofyourrace.” 5 Lookingoutward,however,theNACW’sworkimpactedfarmorethanjustBlackwomen. “TheNationalAssociation,”Williamsaverred,“hasalsobeenusefultoanimportantextentin creatingwhatmaybecalledaracepublicopinion[emphasisadded].Whenthelocalclubsof the manyStates became nationalized,itbecame possible toreachthe whole people with questionsandintereststhatconcernedthewholerace.” 6 DuBoishadattemptedtolocalizethe impactoftheNACW,arguingthatitsprimaryimpactwouldbeonitsworkwithchildren. Meanwhile, he claimed thatthe Council had a better handle onnational racial concerns. Williamsarguedexactlytheopposite.TheNACWwasthefirstmajornationalorganizationto effectivelycoordinatelocal Blacksocial andpolitical concernsonanational scale.“For example,” Williams pressed her case, “whenthe National Associationinterested itselfin studyingsuchproblemsastheConvictLeaseSystemoftheSouthernStatesorthenecessityof kindergartens…itwaspossibletouniteandinteresttheintelligentforcesoftheentirerace.” Moreover,clubwomenrailedagainstthesexualandlaborexploitationsoftheconvictlease systemfromthetimeoftheirearliestmeetings.Theycreatedcommitteestostudytheproblem, draftedreports,whichalwaysmadesuretomentiontheespecialdifficultyBlackwomenfaced inlaborcamps,andmadeabolitionoftheconvictleasesystemahallmarkoftheiradvocacy. 7 Thisspiritofracialcooperationacrosslocales“isnew,”Williamsargued,“andbelongstothe neworderofthingsbroughtaboutbynationalizedefforts.” 8 Wellknownasamemberofthelate-nineteenth-centuryChicagoBlackelite,FannieBarrier Williamsgainedwideacclaimwhenshesecuredtheonlypositionofferedtoacoloredwoman

onthe1892ChicagoWorld’sFair’sBoardofLadyManagers.AstaunchBookerite,Williams

andherhusband,attorneyS.LaingWilliams,rosethroughtheranksoftheChicagoelitefrom

the1890sthroughtheearly1900s,asherwritingsinarangeofBookerT.Washington–owned

publicationssecuredherpositionasoneofthemostformidablethinkersofhergeneration. WandaHendricksnotesthat“becauseofherintellectualanalysisofhowindustrializationand urbanizationweretransformingtheMidwestandreshapingthelivesofwomen,shewasoftena principalspeakeratlocalandnationalconferencesabouttheintersectionalityofgenderand labor.” 9 World’sFairorganizersinvitedhertogivetwospeechesattheevent,onetothe World’sCongressofRepresentativeWomenatwhichAnnaJuliaCooperandFrancesWatkins Harperalsospoke,andtheothertotheWorld’sCongressofReligions.Whiletherehasbeenan increasingand deserved focus onthe workof Anna Julia Cooper, 10 it bears notingthat Cooper’scommentattheWorld’sFairwasinresponsetothelongerspeechgivenbyWilliams on“TheIntellectualProgressofColoredWomen.”ThoughCooperhadpublishedVoicefrom theSouthtocriticalacclaimamongtheAfricanAmericanintelligentsiajustafewmonths

earlier, Williams, in her Fair speech, laid out the most intellectually sophisticated and compellingnarrativeaboutracewomen’sprogressandracialaspirations.Theprolificbodyof social theorizing that Williams produced at the turn of the twentieth century remains understudied. CriticalattentiontothesocialandpoliticaltheorizingofWilliams,“oneoftheleading intellectualsoftheturnofthe[twentieth]century,”callsfortha“neworderofthings,”inour understandingofexistingtraditionsofBlackintellectualproduction. 11 Inparticular,Iturnin

thischaptertoaseriesofspeechesandarticlessheproducedbetween1893and1905,in

whichsheforthrightlytheorizedtherelationshipoftheclubmovementtothebuildingofBlack civil society. She introduces a series of terms and formulations, amongthem, organized anxiety,Americanpeculiarity,racepublicopinion,andracialsociality,thatarecentralto herbroadpoliticalvisionforAfricanAmericanpeopleandthatanchorherstridentcritiqueof theAmericandemocraticproject.Likeherclubwomencounterparts,Blackwomenexistedat the center of her narrative of Blackand American nation-building. 12 Her desire to take seriouslytheplightofBlackwomenmeantthatsheroutinelycritiquedBlackmeninherpublic work,especiallyW.E.B.DuBois.AlthoughsomeofherenmitytowardDuBoismightbe attributed to her and her husband’s devotionto Washington, a closer examinationof her writingsrevealslegitimateideologicaldifferencesinherunderstandingsofhowtoaddress Blacksocialproblems,particularlythoseofBlackwomen.MakingBlackwomen’sproblems visiblewithinpost-Reconstruction,turn-of-the-twentieth-centurysocialdiscoursesontherace problem necessitated clear and dedicated attention to studying Black women and their organizations.

FIGURE2.FannieBarrierWilliams.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts

FIGURE2.FannieBarrierWilliams.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts

Division,HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

Thegoalofthischapter,then,istwofold.First,itoffersanintellectualhistoryoftheNACW SchoolofThoughtvis-à-visthepioneeringworkofFannieBarrierWilliams,oneofitskey architects.FocusingontheintellectualhistoryoftheNACWbuildsonavoluminousbodyof literatureontheClubwomen’sMovement,whichapproachesitprimarilyasasocialwelfare organization.ThegerminaltextamongthesehistoriesisDeborahGrayWhite’sTooHeavya

Load:BlackWomeninDefenseofThemselves,1894–1994.Whiteandotherhistorianshave

demonstratedthewaysinwhichtheNACWbecamethetraininggroundforaBlackfemale eliteleadershipclassinthelatenineteenthandearlytwentiethcenturies. 13 Moreover,such work has also documented the sophisticated social welfare, educational, and political initiativesundertakenbytheNACWbothlocallyandnationally,particularlyintheformof

buildingschools, social settlement houses, and convalescent homes and offeringparental trainingtoBlackcommunities thatdidnothave access tothese services.Williams has a formidablehistoryoforganizingandclubworkinherownright. 14 However,herworkasa theoreticianofracialidentity,publicspace,andwhatItermthecivicunknowabilityofBlack womenoffersacriticalpictureofthefirsttwodecadesoftheintellectualworkoftheNACW School. 15 Second,inthischapter,IuseaBlackfeministanalyticframeworktoevaluatethesalience andusefulnessofmanyofthekeyideasthatWilliamscreatedaspartoftheNACWSchool. OneofthegoalsofexcavatingBlackwomen’sintellectualhistoryinthisbookistoconsider thewaysthatthisrichbodyofideasmightvivifytheintellectualenvironsofBlackfeminist thoughtbyofferinguptousatreasurechestofideasthatplaceBlackfemaleembodimentatthe center.UsingaBlackfeministanalyticlensdoesnotrequirethatallthewomenunderstudyuse thetermfeminist,atermthatwouldhavebeenanachronisticinitsusageinWilliams’scase. Instead,aBlackfeministanalyticframeworkinvitesustoconsiderthewaysthatBlackwomen havethoughtthroughtheparticularitiesofraceandgenderasidentitypositions—andracism, sexism,andclassismasinterlockingstructuresofpower.AndbecauseWilliamsandotherrace womencaredsodeeplyaboutcombattingcivicunknowability,orwhatKristieDotsoncalls “epistemicerasure,”theirconcernsaboutthetermsandconditionsunderwhichBlackwomen cometobeknownplacetheirtheorizingsquarelyinthecenteroftheintellectualconcernsthat haveanimatedthedevelopmentofBlackfeministtheory.

TheCallforSystematicStudyofBlackWomen’sLives

ThefirstcallforthesystematicstudyofBlackwomenasaseparateanddistinctcategory amongAfricanAmericans came fromFannie Barrier Williams duringher 1893 Chicago World’sFairaddress.“LessisknownofourwomenthanofanyotherclassofAmericans,”she toldheraudience. 16 Therewere“noorganizationsoffar-reachinginfluencefortheirspecial advancement,noconventionsofwomentotakenoteoftheirprogress,andnospecialliterature recitingtheincidents,theevents,andallthingsinterestingandinstructiveconcerningthemare tobefoundamongtheagenciesdirectingtheircareer.”“Therehasbeen,”sheconcluded,“no

specialinterestintheirpeculiarconditionasnative-bornAmericanwomen.” 17 Thedifficulty in indexing Black women’s intellectual progress, she explained, reflected the fact that “separatefactsandfiguresrelativetocoloredwomenarenoteasilyobtainable,”whilealso revealingastillmorefundamentalproblem,namelythatthe“peculiarcondition”ofBlack women rendered them invisible within the intellectual dictates of traditional knowledge production. Moreover, Williams maintained, the lack of information on black women

underscoredthatthethrustofAmericanknowledgeproductionwasnotarace-orgender-

neutralendeavor.Inthecaseofwhitewomen,“nearlyeveryfactanditemillustrativeoftheir progressandstatusisclassifiedandeasilyaccessible.”Bycontrast,Blackwomen“hadno advantageofinterestspeculiaranddistinctandseparablefromthoseofmenthathaveyet excitedpublicattentionandkindlyrecognition.” 18 Williamsusedanintersectionalanalysisto demonstratethewaysinwhichmovementstoemancipatebothwomenandBlackpeopleoften workedtoobscureBlackwomenasbothuniqueproducersofknowledgeandsubjectsworthy

ofknowledgeproduction. Williamsdidnotmerelyadvocateforblackwomentohaveaccesstothe“sameopportunity fortheacquisitionofallkindsofknowledgethatmaybeaccordedtootherwomen.”Rather, shesuggestedmorespecificallythatBlackwomenwereeagertoproduceknowledge,andthat ifgiventhechancetoeducatethemselves,inonegenerationBlackwomen“willbefound successfullyoccupyingeveryfieldwherethehighestintelligencealoneisadmissible.…[T]he exceptional career ofour womenwill yetstamp itselfindeliblyuponthe thoughtofthis country.” 19 “Inshort,”shetoldthem,“ourwomenareambitioustobecontributorstoallthe greatmoralandintellectualforcesthatmakeforthegreaterwealofourcommoncountry.” 20 Like Cooper had done in the publication of Voice from the South, Williams informed audiencesthatBlackwomenwantedastakeintheintellectualleadership,notonlyoftheirrace butalsotheircountry. ThesecondcallforthesystematicstudyoftheracecamefromVictoriaEarleMatthewsin

1895.AfteraMissourijournalistissuedaviciousassaultonthecharacterofAfricanAmerican

women,precipitatedbytherisingprominenceofIdaB.Wells,abevyof“aboutonehundred” “publicspiritedAfro-Americanwomen”convenedinBostonfortheFirstCongressofColored Women. 21 “Theconventionaffordedafineexhibitionofcapablewomen,”Williamswrote. “There was nothing amateurish, uncertain or timid in the proceedings. Every subject of peculiarinteresttocoloredwomenwasdiscussedandacteduponasifbywomendisciplined inthinkingoutlargeandseriousproblems.” 22 ThoughthewomenroundlycondemnedJohn Jacks,theMissourijournalist,forhisvitriolicattacksonBlackwomanhood,thewomen“soon feltthataNationalConventionofresponsiblewomenwouldbeamisplacementofmoralforce, ifitmerelyexhausteditselfinreplyingtoaslanderouspublication.” 23 Thus,theybegantoset anagendatoconfront,study,andaddressthemyriadproblemsfacingBlacklocalcommunities. ItwastothisspecificmomentthatWilliamsreferredas“theorganizedanxietyofwomen.” Asthewomenmettogether andsharedinformationabouttheterriblytroublingconditions Blackwomenwerefacing,ananxietyemerged,borneofadeepandgrowingconsciousnessof their“lowsocialcondition”andtheir“desiretoinitiatetheforcesofreform.” 24 Theywere bothoutragedatandanxiousaboutthepublicassaultsonBlackwomen’scharacterbecause they knew that this public discourse of vilification subjected Black women not only to discriminationbutalsotorapeandviolence.Thus,theyorganizedthemselvestochangeit,not onlybyofferingsocial services but also throughthe mechanismof intellectual activism. Williams’stermorganizedanxietyrootstheintellectualcontentofracialchangewithinBlack women’sbodies,identifyingcollectiveracialdiscontentandcollectiveracialanxietyasforces thatpropelledinstitutionalandsocialchangethroughtheworkoforganizedBlackwomen. ThisdiscussionabouttheaffectivenatureoftheworkreturnsustoAnnaJuliaCooper’sably demonstratednarrativeofembodieddiscourseasacharacteristicfeatureofBlackwomen’s knowledgeproduction.Inparticular,Williams’schoicetoplaceBlackwomen’semotionsand feelings about the impacts of racism and white supremacy at the fore of her political theorizationmarksacriticalshiftfromDarleneClarkHine’stheoryofdissemblance,which suggeststhatBlackwomennevermadetheirprivateemotionstheprovinceofpublicfodder. Hinewritesthat

Blackwomenasarule,developedandadheredtoacultofsecrecy,acultureofdissemblancetoprotectthe sanctityofinneraspectsoftheirlives.Thedynamicsofdissemblanceinvolvedcreatingtheappearanceof disclosure,oropennessaboutthemselvesandtheirfeelings,whileactuallyremaininganenigma.Onlywith secrecy,thusachievingaself-imposedinvisibility,couldordinaryBlackwomenaccruethepsychicspaceand harnesstheresourcesneededtoholdtheirownintheoftenone-sidedandmismatchedresistancestruggle. 25

Moreover,Hinelocatestheoriginforthis“cultofsecrecy”intheinstitutionalworkofthe NACW.Shearguesthat“atthecoreofessentiallyeveryactivityoftheNACW’sindividual memberswasaconcernwithcreatingpositiveimagesofBlackwomen’ssexuality.” 26 Thus, sheconcludesthat“thecultureofdissemblancefounditsmostinstitutionalizedforminthe founding”oftheNACW. 27 Hineformulatesthecultureofdissemblanceasoneoftheanchoring political projects of what I understand to be the NACW School of Thought, which disseminatedtheideologyofdissemblanceasamechanismtohelpBlackwomenachieve socialandpoliticalrespectability. Theproblemisthatsuchtheorizationsoverdetermineandoversimplifythecomplexways that Blackwomenboththeorized and engaged the politics of Blackfemale embodiment. Certainly,racewomenworkedhardtokeeptheirprivatelivesoutofpublicview,butthe readinesswithwhichtheyspokeabouttheirfeelingsandabouttheirexperiencesofbodily violationsuggeststhatdissemblanceasatheoreticalframeworkcancauseustomisrecognize thepowerfulwaysthatBlackwomendidchoosetomaketheirbodiesandtheirfeelingsvisible to the public. MaryChurchTerrell, the firstpresidentofthe NACWand one ofthe key architectsoftheideologyofBlackwomen’srespectability,spokeinherautobiographynotonly tointergenerationalissueswithdepressionbutalsoofherownbodilycommitmenttopleasure throughdance(seechaptertwo).PerhapsBlackwomen’sexpressionsoffeelinginpublicwere partofalargerenigmaticdissemblanceproject,asHinesuggests.Butifweviewthepublic expressions of feeling and public invocations of embodied discourse as forms of dissimulation,thenwealsomireBlackwomen’stheorizingandpublicworkinakindof mistrustthatmakesthemalwaysunknowable.ButWilliamsandMatthews’sexplicitinvestment inremovingBlackwomenfromtheveilofobscurityandinmakingBlackwomenknowable entitiessuggeststhattoreadthemprimarilyaccordingtothetermsofdissemblanceistomiss thepowerfulwaysthattheyattemptedtobothframeandpoliticizetheirinteriorlivesand feelings.MelissaHarris-PerryarguesthatBlackwomen’s“emotionsaffecthowweengagein politics” and that “to understand blackwomenas political actors we must explore how intersectingdisadvantagesbasedonrace,gender,class,andsexualityinfluencehow these womenfeel and think.” 28 Williams argued thatBlackwomen’s feelings, particularlytheir anxiety,influencedandshapedtheirpoliticalagenda. HernamingofBlackwomen’sanxietyandhertheorizationofitasanemotionintegralto race women’s politics is rooted in an intrinsic bodily awareness about Black women’s corporealvulnerability.SocialdiscoursesaboutBlackwomen’ssexualitymadeobliquethe waysthatBlackfemalebodieswereaffectedbythesystemicviolencesofJimCrow.Yes, reclaimingandrenamingthetermsuponwhichBlackwomen’ssexualitywasmadelegiblein the broader Americanpublic shapeda greatdeal ofthe social andpolitical workofthe NACW.However,theintellectualprojectofsituatingBlackwomenasknowledgeproducers andhumanentitiesworthyofpoliticalconsiderationcannotbereducedtoaconversationabout

Blackwomen’sobsessionwithsystemsofsexualrepresentation.Racewomenhadtocomb throughamorassofsexualmisrepresentationsinordertomakeBlackwomenvisibleonmore sociallysustainableterms.Theysoughttoconstructtheracewomanintellectualasafoiltothe sexuallydeviantBlackfemalespecterthathauntedtheAmericanpoliticalimagination.For these women, the fictive social narratives ofBlackwomen’s sexualityintruded uponthe facticityofBlackwomen’sintellectual abilityandinterests.Butthefactthatracewomen deployedacombinationofstrategiesofrespectability,dissemblance,andembodieddiscourse suggeststhattheywerelessinterestedinevacuatingallmodesofsexualexpressionfromthe social terrainoftheBlackfemalebodyandmoreinterestedinmakingsurethatideas of sexualitydidnotoverdetermineandlimitthescopeofBlackwomen’ssocialpossibilities. Thus, theyconcerned themselves withcreatinga bodyof thought and a series of social strategiesthatwouldshiftthepublicdiscourseaboutBlackwomen’sbodies. Matthews,oneofthefeaturedspeakersattheCongress,feltthatthisshiftcouldoccur throughthecreationofwhatshecalled“RaceLiterature.”Thematically,herspeechon“The ValueofRaceLiterature”tookupwhereWilliamshadleftoff,systematicallylayingoutacall fortheintellectualdevelopmentoftherace.Sheanchoredhertalkconceptuallybyframing whatshemeantbythetermsraceandliterature.“Byraceliteraturewemeanordinarilyallthe writingsemanatingfromadistinctclass—notnecessarilyracematter,butageneralcollection ofwhathasbeenwrittenbythemenandwomenoftherace.” 29 Thiscollectionofliterature could include every conceivable genre from “history, biographies, scientific treatises, sermons, addresses, novels, poems, books of travel, miscellaneous essays and the contributionstomagazinesandnewspapers.” 30 Sheaddressedcriticswhomightfindanotion ofdistinct“raceliterature”separatefromAmericanliteratureobjectionable.The“conditions, whichgovernthepeopleofAfricanDescentintheUnitedStates”createda“markeddifference inthelimitations,characteristics,aspirationsandambitionsofthisclassofpeople.” 31 Inother words,Matthewsbelieved“allthisimpiouswronghasmadeaRaceLiteratureapossibility, evenanecessity.” 32 Thus,inherviewthereexistedboththepotentialandthenecessityfora distinctiveAfricanAmericanliterarytradition. 33 Racewomenbyandlargeagreedwiththisclaim.MaryChurchTerrellwrotethatshe regrettedherinabilitytobecomeaformidablefictionwriterbecauseshehad“thoughtforyears that the Race Problem could be solved more swiftly and more surely through the instrumentalityoftheshortstoryornovelthaninanyotherway.” 34 Forracewomen,race literatureinstantiatedbothaliterarytraditionandconstitutedthecreationofan“intellectual history”fortherace,bywhichtheintellectualpossibilitiesofAfricanAmericanswouldbe judged.AsGertrudeBustillMossellhadbeensokeentonotejustoneyearearlierinherbook, WorkoftheAfro-AmericanWoman,“theintellectualhistoryofaraceisalwaysofvaluein determiningthepastandfutureofit.” 35 Racewomenmade“AfricanAmericanliteraryculture fundamentaltotheracialupliftagendaofsocialreform.” 36 “Whentheliteratureofourraceis developed,itwillofnecessitybedifferentinallessentialpointsofgreatness,trueheroismand real Christianityfromwhat we mayat the present time, for convenience, call American Literature,”Matthewsmadeclear. 37 This Race Literature,Matthews further argued,wouldalsoserve as “a counter-irritant

againstallsuchwriting”thatdeliberatelymisrepresentedBlackwomenandBlackpeople.It wouldhave“asanaimthesupplyingofinfluentialandaccurateinformation,onallsubjects relatingtotheNegroandhisenvironments,toinformtheAmericanmindatleast,forliterary purposes.” 38 Raceliteraturedidnotmerelyhaveapoliticalfunction,butratheranintellectual onetotransformandreshape“theAmericanmind,”andwhatWilliamscalled“publicopinion” regardingtheNegro. Matthews’sspeechwasgivenatthefirstnationalgatheringofAfricanAmericanwomenin 1895, and many of the themes it delineated further refined and clarified the intellectual concernsthatdrovetheNACW’sintellectualagenda.Infact,shemadesuretospecifically addresstherolewomenwouldplayinthecreationofraceliterature.“Woman’spartinRace literature,asinRacebuilding,”sheproclaimed,“isto…receiveimpressionsandtransmit them.” 39 Matthewsinvokedthesentimentaldiscourseofimpressibilitytoconnectwomen’s roleinracebuildingtotheproductionofraceliterature.FeministtheoristKylaSchullerhas

recentlyexcavatedthesignificanceofthediscourseandtheoryofimpressibilitytonineteenth-

centuryformulationsofevolution.Accordingtothe“impressiontheoryofsensation,”“the more refined and delicate the tissue, and by association the individual, the greater the organism’s capacityfor impressibility. Heightened impressibilityleads to growthand the acquisitionofknowledge.Thoseofthehigherclasses,especiallywomen,werethoughttohave

highlyresponsivenaturesandacorrelateddelicacythatfrequentlythreatenedweakness.” 40 AnnaJuliaCoopersoundedasimilarnotewhenshearguedthatbecauseBlackpeoplewere inarapidstateofadvancementasarace,“araceinsuchastageofgrowthispeculiarly sensitivetoimpressions.”These“highstrungpeople,”neededastrongpresencefromBlack womenwho“muststampwealorwoeonthecominghistoryofthispeople.” 41 Asmobilized bywhitewomen,thediscourseofimpressibilityservedtosuggestthattheirracewascivilized and therefore responded well to impressions. Among black women, the discourse of impressibilitywasinvokedtocontendthattheirracewasimpressibleandthereforecapableof civilization. 42 SuchideasabouttherelationshipbetweendiscourseandthebodyemergedfromLockean ideasaboutthebodyasatabularasa,uponwhichideasandexperiencescouldbeinscribed. Williams’slanguageoforganizedanxiety,coupledwithCooper’scharacterizationofBlack peopleasa“highstrungpeople”“sensitivetoimpressions,”makesclearthatBlackwomen perceivedanintegralrelationshipbetweendiscourseandembodiment.Matthewsarguedthat Blackwomen’sintellectualwork—theirwriting—couldtransmitimpressions.Herassertion thatBlackwomen’sintellectualworkwasakintotransmittinganimpressiondirectlytothe bodyisanexampleofthewaysBlackwomenusedembodieddiscoursetosuturethematerial tothediscursive,linkingthefleshyprecarityofBlacklifetotheforward-lookingpossibilities ofprogressivesocialdiscourse.Theyaimedtousetheirknowledgeproductiontoreshapethe Blackbody(thelanguageandthinkingbehindimpressibility)insocialdiscourseandtocreate newideologicalandsocialterraininwhichBlackbodies(andtheBlackpeopleinhabiting them)couldsafelyexist.

FromtheExceptionaltothePeculiar:BlackWomenasCitizen-Women

ShiftingwhiteAmericanpublicopinionregardingtheplightofBlackwomenrequiredfervent advocacyfromracewomen,notonlyinraceliterature,butalsoinpublicexchanges.During herWorld’sFairspeech,Williamstookgreatcaretoexplicateforhermostlywhitefemale audience “the bitterness of our experience as citizen-women.” 43 A figurative compound expressionknownasakenning,thetermcitizen-womenrefractedBlackwomen’sexperience ofwomanhoodthroughthelensofcitizenship.Blackwomen’sexperienceaswomenrelied upontheircivicconstructioninthepublicsphere.Byplacingthewordcitizenfirstinthe kenning, Williams gave priority to Black women’s status in the American body politic, attempting yet again to make Black women legible as civically knowable persons. Simultaneously,thetermpointedtothewaysthatgenderacteduponpublicidentitycategories, likethatof“citizen,”whereitwasofteninvokedtosignalbothexclusionandthelimitsof democracy,ratherthanmorenoblerealities.Blackwomen’scivicexperienceofwomanhood hadbeen“bitter,”afterall.Thustheircivicexperiencesexposeddeepfissuresinthenarrative

of American exceptionalism, a narrative that the ceremony and fanfare of the exhibition attemptedtoquell.

OneoftheexamplesthatWilliamsgaveofBlackwomen’speculiarexperienceascitizen-

womenwastheircontinualstruggletosecureemployment.Thedifficultyoffindingworkwasa direct result of Americans’ poor opinion of Black women’s moral stature: “[T]aught everywhereinethicsandsocialeconomythatmeritalwayswins,coloredwomencarefully preparethemselvesforallkindsofoccupationsonlytomeetwithsternrefusal,rebuff,and

disappointment.” 44 Understandingthemselvestobedisadvantagedbothbythelabordictatesof thePeculiarInstitutionandthemeritocraticmythofAmericanexceptionalism,Blackwomen frequently invoked what I terma discourse of American peculiarity. This discourse is exemplifiedinWilliams’squestion,“[A]rewenotjustifiedinafeelingofdesperationagainst thatpeculiarformofAmericanismthatshowsrespectforourwomenasservantsandcontempt forthemwhentheybecomewomenofculture?” 45 ByhighlightingBlackfemaledesperation, Williams continued to place Black women’s emotions front and center in her political discourse,amovethathumanizedthemandthatdemonstratesthevarietyofanxiety-producing encountersBlackwomenhadwithracistandsexistdiscrimination. Inanothercase,duringherstrugglewiththeLadyManagersforBlackfemalerepresentation ontheboardandatthefair,elocutionistandWilberforceProfessorHallieQuinnBrownwrote inalettertooneofthemembers,“[C]onsideringthepeculiarrelationthattheNegrosustains inthiscounty[sic],isitlessthanfairtorequestforhimaspecialrepresentation?” 46 Through

referencetoAmerica’speculiarity,BlackwomenhighlightedthefactthattheAmericannation-

stateisdefinednotbyitsstatedidealsofliberty,equality,orfreedom,butratherbyitsracist practicestowarditsAfricanAmericancitizenry.Likemostracewomenofherday,Williams firmlybelievedthatcoloredwomenwere“asthoroughlyAmericaninallthecircumstancesof citizenshipasthebestcitizensofourcountry.” 47 Theywerethusentitledtotherightsand protectionsofAmericanidentity. Toinvokethelanguageofpeculiaritywastochallengethepresupposedbenevolenceof slavery, by interrogating the euphemism most often used to describe it: “The Peculiar Institution.”WhiteracialclaimsabouttheinferiormoralityoftheBlackraceweredeeply

genderedandtypicallycharacterizedBlackwomenassexuallylascivious,cunning,devious, and therefore incapable of victimization. Although Williams could “appreciate the offensivenessofallreferencestoAmericanslavery,”shebelievedthatcallingattentionto slavery’sactualimpactonAfricanAmericanwomenmatteredmorethanpreservingwhite racialmythologiesofbenevolence. 48 Heruseofthetermpeculiarityreferrednotonlytothe particularityofBlackandfemaleexperience,butalsotoakindofstudiedbewildermentatthe utterillogicofAmericanracism,therefusaltocometotermswiththelevelofdevastationthat ithadheapeduponBlackpeople,andthedeepinvestmentsofwhitepeopleinmaintaining whitesupremacydespitetheprogressofAfricanAmericans. Moreover, according to Williams, the Peculiar Institution and the peculiar forms of AmericanismthatitspawnedhadcreatedapeculiarexperienceforBlackwomen.“Though thereismuchthatissorrowful,”shemaintained,“andmuchthatiswonderfullyheroic,and muchthatisromanticinapeculiarwayintheirhistory,noneofithasasyetbeentoldas evidence of what is possible for these women.” 49 Blackwomen’s peculiaritywithinthe Americanbodypolitic,coupledwithablindallegianceonthepartofthewhitepublictothe gospelofAmericanexceptionalism,hadrenderedBlackfemaleexperienceandpersonhood illegiblewithintheAmericanpublic:“TheAmericanpeoplehavealwaysbeenimpatientof ignorance and poverty. They believe with Emerson that ‘America is another word for opportunity,’andforthatreasonsuccessisavirtueandpovertyandignoranceareinexcusable. Thismayaccountforthefactthatourwomenhaveexcitednogeneralsympathyinthestruggle toemancipatethemselvesfromthedemoralizationofslavery.” 50 Williams’swordspointoutthatthegreatironyoftheAmericansystemwasthatAmericans’ deeplyhelddisdainforinequalitywasoutmatchedonlybytheirdeepdisdainforthosewho wereunequal.Consequently,Americanexceptionalismhadtobecontested,notonlyintermsof itspoliticalimplications,butalsointermsofitsepistemologicalimplications.Failuretodoso meant that Blackfemale progress, and thus Blackwomen’s lives, would continue to go intellectuallyunrecognizedwithinthelargerAmericanbodypolitic.

RaceandPublicOpinion

Reshaping the public discourse about Black women topped the NACW’s list of racial priorities.ChallengingrecalcitrantpublicopinionwasnecessaryforBlackwomentomove frombeingthe“leastknown”groupofwomentoagroupofcivicallyknowablepersons. FiguringouthowtonamethepropertermsuponwhichBlackwomenknowtheworld,andto createthepropertermsuponwhichBlackwomencanbeknown,constitutesaperennialand enduringepistemologicalcrisisamongBlackwomenintellectualsandBlackfeministtheorists. KristieDotsonarguesthatWilliams’stheorizationofBlackwomen’s“unknowability”refersto “thenegative,socio-epistemicspaceBlackwomenexistinwithinUSsocialimaginaries.” 51

WilliamsreturnedtothisideaofBlackwomenbeing“notknown”ina1905essaycalled“The

ColoredGirl”:“Thattheterm‘coloredgirl’isalmostatermofreproachinthesociallifeof Americaisalltootrue;sheisnotknownandhencenotbelievedin,shebelongstoaracethat isbestdesignatedbytheterm‘problem’andshelivesbeneaththeshadowofthatproblem whichenvelopsandobscuresher.” 52 Here,Williamspointstothemyriadnegativeimpactsof

theepistemicsubjugationofBlackwomenandgirls.Becausesheisnotknown,sheisnot “believedin,”whichistosayboththatBlackwomenandgirlsarenotbelieved,andtheir claimsabouttheirlivesarefoundlackingincredibility;andthattheyarenotbelievedin, whichmeansthereislimitedcommunalinvestmentinBlackwomen’sandgirls’livesasasite ofpossibility.LikeCooper,WilliamstriestorewriteBlackwomen’sandgirls’livesasa spaceofpossibility,ratherthanasaspaceofimpossibilitybeckonedbyhavingone’sexistence confined,“enveloped,”and“obscured”byexistenceinanegativesocio-epistemicspace.

SinceFrancesWatkinsHarper’spublicationofIolaLeroy,orShadowsUpliftedin1892,

racewomenhadarguedthatBlackwomenoccupiedanumbralpositionwithregardtobroader publicdiscoursesonrace.Theyexistedintheshadowycontoursofdiscussionsoftherace problem,theirproblemsremainingobscuretothe“light”ofbroaderdiscourses.Thus,here

WilliamsmakesclearthatthereareotherfacetstoDuBois’s1903formulationaboutthe

problematizationofrace.TotheextentthatBlackmenlaboredundertheconstructionofthe race as a social problem, Blackwomenexisted, as Williams noted above, “beneaththe shadowofthatproblem,whichenvelopsandobscuresher.”Williamsandotherracewomen soughttoremedythisepistemicsubjugationbytransformingthepublicdiscourseaboutBlack womanhoodandbycreatingviablemodelsofrespectablewomanhoodforBlackwomen. After evaluatingthe social impactofAmerica’s peculiar relations ofpower onBlack women,Williamscametothesameconclusionasmanyofhercontemporaries:Blackwomen hadauniqueandpublicroletoplayinreshapingAmerica’spublicdiscourseonBlackwomen. Infact,questionsabouttheoperationofpublicopinionandaboutthepoweroforganized womentoreshapepublicopinionemergedoverandoveragaininWilliams’sthought.Shewas convincedthattheintellectualtalentsofanorganizedAfricanAmericanwomanhoodcouldbe usedtoshifttheweightoffofBlackwomenwhosufferedunder“thevileimputationsofa diseasedpublicopinion.” 53 Thoughthiswasnotawhollyoriginalconclusion,asBlackwomen hadbeenfightingforaplaceinpubliclifethroughoutthecentury,thisactiveassertionofBlack women’sabilitytomoldpublicopinionandreshapetheAmericanmind,wasnewandwasan outgrowthofshiftinglate-nineteenth-centuryconversationsinpoliticaltheory.

After1893,theconceptof“publicopinion”recursrepeatedlyinWilliams’stheorizing.Not

onlydoessheinvokeitintheWorld’sFairspeech,butshealsoclaims,asIwilldiscuss shortly,thattheNACWcreatedthefirst“racepublicopinion.”Thetitleofanarticleshe

pennedin1904is“TheNegroandPublicOpinion.”Theoreticalworkontheconceptofpublic

opinionfirstappearedinAlexisDeTocqueville’sDemocracyinAmerica.Buttherewasa resurgenceofconversationabouttheconceptintheworkofpoliticaltheoristViscountJames Bryce, whose classic political tome, American Commonwealth (1888), devoted twelve chaptersofthebooktodelineatingtheoperationsofpublicopinion,itsforms,functions,and effectsintheAmericanbodypolitic.ItisnotclearwhetherWilliamsreadBryce’swork,but hisworkreceivedmuchpopularcoverageinthenationalpress,makingitconceivablethather deliberateengagementswiththeconceptofpublicopiniondoattemptatsomeleveltoengage hiswork. InachapterofAmericanCommonwealthcalled“TheNatureofPublicOpinion,”Bryce delineated the differences between passive and active public opinion. Passive opinion referredto“theopinionofthosewhohavenospecialinterestinpolitics,orconcernwiththem

beyondthatofvoting,ofthosewhoreceiveorpropagate,butdonotoriginate,viewsonpublic matters.” 54 However,takingintoaccountthat“opiniondoesnotmerelygrow;itisalsomade,” Bryceobservedthat“[t]hereisnotmerelythepassiveclassofpersons;thereistheactive class,whooccupythemselvesprimarilywithpublicaffairs,whoaspiretocreateandlead opinion.” 55 Disturbed“thatpublicopinionconcerningtheNegrointhiscountryislargely basedonignoranceofnearlyeverythingthatisgoodandpropheticinthelifeoftherace,” 56 Williamswasinterestedinthewaysthatracewomenandtheorganizationstheycreatedcould functionasanactiveclassofopinionshapers. Williamsargued,“[T]heNationalAssociationhasalsobeenusefultoanimportantextentin

creatingwhatmaybecalledaracepublicopinion.” 57 Tobeclear,thisassertionfromWilliams constitutespoliticaltheorizing.Shestudies,thenoffersaname,forasocialphenomenon.Iam makingthiselementaryobservationbecausewespendagreatdealoftimeacknowledgingthis kindofintellectuallaborwhenmenlikeDuBoisname“double-consciousness”or“twoness” butpaylittleattentionwhenwomenlikeWilliamsnameothersocialphenomenacriticaltothe existenceofBlackcommunities.Theexplicitlinkthatshemakesbetweentheworkofthe Associationandtheworkofshaping“racepublicopinion”againsuggestsadirectengagement with Bryce who argued that “associations have great importance in the development of opinion, for they rouse attention, excite discussion, formulate principles, submit plans, emboldenandstimulatetheir members,producethatimpressionofaspreadingmovement whichgoessofartowardssuccesswithasympatheticandsensitivepeople.” 58 Writtenthirty- five years after Emancipation, Williams’s theorization demonstrates that the NACW was criticaltoshapingthefunctionofastill-emergentBlackpublicspherebyhelpingtofacilitate collectiveandmeasurableBlackpublicopinion. 59 AlthoughfreeBlackpeopleintheNorthhad created literarysocieties, churches, and mutual aid societies throughoutthe whole ofthe nineteenthcentury, the period after Emancipationcreated a national free Blackpopulace workingacrossregionsandclassstatusestofigureoutaproperpathforracialadvancement. Becausetheclubmovementspreadnationwide,itwasthefirstmajororganizationbesides denomination-basedchurchorganizationsandfraternalorganizationstohaveabroadlevelof reachandaspecificsetofraciallydrivenconcerns. Black women’s associations approached the work of changing public opinion quite differentlythanBlackmen’sassociationsdid.AbriefhistoricalaccountoftheAmericanNegro

Academy(ANA)makesclearthesedifferences.WhenAlexanderCrummellfoundedtheall-

maleANAin1897,thisorganization,comprisedexclusivelyofracemen,tookastheirprimary

goal a systematic study of “the Negro.” A formal academic organization with explicit intellectual goals, the ANAshould be understood atthe convergence oftwo prior Black intellectualtraditions.Itincorporatedboththenumerousliterarysocietiesandlyceumsthathad

beenapartofBlackpubliclifeinmajorcitiesfromthe1830sforwardandthemorerecent

professionalizationofvariousdisciplinesincludingHistoryandSociologythroughthecreation

ofprofessionalacademicassociationsthroughoutthe1880sand1890s.Literarysocietiesand

lyceums,suchasthefamedBethelHistoricalandLiteraryAssociationinWashington,D.C.

(1881),broughttogethervariousmembersofthecommunity,oftenweekly,topresent,discuss,

anddebatepapersoneverythingfromliterature,topolitics,totravel,toeconomics.These

literarysocieties were more democratic innature thanthe professional associations that formedlater,largelybecausechurchesorcommunitygroupsfacilitatedthem.Ofcourse,their presentershadtobeliterateand,tosomeextenteducated,sothesegroupswerenotbyany meansfullyinclusive,butthemembershipswerenot,bynature,restrictive.Bycontrast,the ANAsoughtanexclusivemembershipofhighlyeducated,well-knownBlackmenonly.Inits nearlythirty-one-yearhistory,theANAinvitedonlytwowomentoaddressthegroup—Anna JuliaCooperandMaritchaLyons. WhiletheANAunderstooditsrestrictivemembershipintermsofprofessionalization,its choicetobeagender-exclusiveorganizationaptlyillustratesthewaysinwhichculturaland politicalanxietiesaboutBlackgenderpolitics—andinthisspecificcase,Blackmen’sanxiety overbeingpushedoutofBlackpubliclife—informedtheproductionofAfricanAmerican intellectualhistoryandtheoperationsofBlackpublicspaces.ThatBlackmenwouldagain activelyseektocircumscribeBlackwomen’sparticipationinBlackpublicculture,which, accordingtoMarthaJones,“encompassedarealmofideas,acommunityofinterpretation,and acollectiveunderstandingoftheissuesoftheday,”demonstratestheextenttowhichBlack women’sascenttopubliclife,evenintheWoman’sEra,remainedhotlycontestedterrain. 60 AndthesecontinuedbattlesdemonstratewhyWilliamsandotherracewomenremaineddeeply invested in making explicit arguments about the role of Black women’s public and organizational workincreatingand sustainingBlackpublic life. The ANA’s membership choicesimpliedthatintellectualworkwasamaledomainopenonlytoaselectfewwomen vettedandrubber-stampedbythemalemembership.Theorganization’schoicetocommandeer intellectualworkasamale-exclusivepracticecameafteradecadeoflegalandculturalshifts that had fully destabilized the shaky ground of post-Reconstruction racial manhood; the exclusionofwomenwasachoicedesignedtodelineateclearboundariesfortheperformance ofBlackintellectualismvia performances ofracial manhood.Despite Gertrude Mossell’s

optimisticassertionin1894that“ourmenaretoomuchhamperedbytheircontentionswith

theirwhitebrotherstostopandfighttheirblacksisters,” 61 itisquiteclearthatBlackmen activelyregulatedBlackwomen’saccesstotheBlackpublicsphere.Blackmen’sownsense ofpersonhoodseemedtobeboundupwiththeabilitytostaketerritorialclaimtotheprojectof racialuplift.ButBlackwomensimplywerenothavingit. UnliketheANA,whichdedicateditselftoproducingscholarlypapersthatinformedracial thought,theNACWanditslocalclubsusedtheirinsightsandresearchfindingstocreatesocial programstobenefitlocalcommunities.Thisdearthofpublishedscholarlyworkshouldnotbe readasanindicatorofBlackwomen’slackofintellectualproduction,butratherasareflection oftheirwhollydifferentunderstandingoftheproperaims,ends,andusesoftheirintellectual work. The immediate social challenges facing Black communities, compounded by the genderedexpectationthatBlackwomenshoulddovariousformsof“care”workfortherace, created an environment in which Black women could not prioritize the publication of intellectualtomesinthesamewaythattheirmalecounterpartsdid.YetBlackfemaleleaders insistedthat“thelessonslearnedinthesewomen’sorganizationsofthecountryallhavea directbearingonthesocialconditionsofthenegrorace.” 62 Blackmen’sraceworkdidnot havetofulfillthesegenderednotionsofservice,andblackmenwerealsofarlessboundby genderednotionsaboutwhocountedasintellectual.

Becauseoftheirproximitytolocalcommunities,blackwomen’sclubscreatedanimportant feedbackloopforBlackintellectualsthatallowedthemtodisrupttop-downhierarchiesof knowledgeproduction.Manyoftheclubsinvited“prominentmenandwomentoaddressthem onquestionsofvitalinterest,”whichhelpedclubmemberstobemoreinformed“inquestions ofimportancetothemselvesandtheircommunity.” 63 Theseencountersalsogave“menand womenwhohelptomakeandshapepublicopinion…anopportunitytoseeandknowthe bettersideofthecoloredrace.” 64 NotwithstandingtheelitisminWilliams’sreferencetothe “betterside”ofBlackpeople,hertheorizingaboutthepublicintellectualworkoftheNACW clarifiesitsfunctionasaschoolofsocialthoughtcommittedtoequippingBlackpeoplein localcommunitiestoaddressarangeofsocialproblems.RatherthanrelyingsolelyontheDu BoisianTalentedTenthtop-downleadershipmodel,theNACWtrainedlocalBlackstobe students of their social condition and critical interlocutors with national race leaders. Simultaneously,theNACWtrainedracewomentobeeducatorsofpublicopinion.Williams’s carefuldelineationofthepublicandintellectualfunctionsoftheNACWsuggestthatBlack womencreatedtheoreticalframeworksaroundthesetermsthatallowedfortheinclusionof Blackwomeninthem. DuBois,ontheotherhand,wasstillgropingforaneffectiveleadershipmodel,andit would take another decade before he successfully helped spearhead the founding of the NAACP.Throughitsmasteryofthelocal-nationalorganizingmodelanditsextensionofthe workofchurchesandfraternalgroupsinnewdirections,theNACWhadhelpedtocrystallize theoperationsofanascentBlackpublicspherethatcouldidentifymajorproblems,create localsolutions,andcollateinformationintoanationalpictureofracialconditions.Unlike preexistingorgansoftheBlackpublicsphere—thepress,thechurch,mutualaidsocieties,and literary societies, Williams argued that “race public opinion,” or an identifiable set of popularlyagreed-uponracialideasandpriorities,didnotfullyexistuntiltheNACWcreated anorganizationalstructurethattiednationalleaderstolocalbodiesaddressingconcerns.The sheer reachoftheNACW,whichatitsheightboasted50,000members,coupledwithits explicitlystatedintellectualgoalsanditssolidorganizationalstructure,gavethatbodyready accesstosociologicalinformationinawaythatgroupsliketheANAandtheprecursorstothe NAACPcouldnothandle.Inthefollowingsection,IwanttouseWilliams’stheorizingabout thenatureoftheBlackpublicspheretodemonstratethewaysinwhichherthinkingshould informourcontemporaryconceptionsofBlackpublicsandthegenderedoperationofthose spaces.

RacialSocialityandtheForgingofaBlackPublicSphere

Inan1897articlefortheAMEChurchReview,Williamsaddresseddeepclassdivisions

amongAfricanAmericans.ThesedebatesamongtheBlackeliteoverclassdivisionsbetween raceleadersandthemasseswerepartofanongoingdebateaboutupliftideologyandpolitics. KevinGainesnotesthataftertheriseofJimCrow,“upliftincreasinglyborethestampof evolutionaryracialtheoriespositingthecivilizationofelitesagainstthemoraldegradationof themasses.” 65 TheNACW’smotto,“LiftingasWeClimb,”onlyreinforcedthesedivisive class politics. As MaryChurchTerrell said of the motto inone of her NACWkeynote

addresses,“Eventhoughwewishtoshunthem,andholdourselvesentirelyalooffromthem, wecannotescapetheconsequencesoftheiracts.Sothat,ifthecallofdutyweredisregarded altogether,policyandself-preservationwoulddemandthatwedogoamongthelowly,the illiterate,andeventhevicioustowhomweareboundbythetiesofraceandsex,andputforth everypossibleefforttoupliftandreclaimthem.” 66 Despitehisconcessionthat“Blackwomen denounce[d]thosewhoexploitedtheideasofupliftforpersonalpowerorgain,”Gainesnotes that“blackelites’claimsofclassdifferentiationwereself-servinginacceptingoppressive constructions…placingamoralstigmaonpoverty.” 67 Williams’sthinkingonclassrepresents thekindofcontradictorypositionstowhichGainespoints.Ontheonehand,shedidbelieve that“whatthelowerhalfofoursociallifewantsisnotmoneyorinstitutions,butasenseof relationshipandfellowshipwiththeupperhalf.” 68 Ontheotherhand,despiteherill-conceived andbombasticassumptionsabouttheaspirationsoftheworkingclass,shefocusedhercritique on the machinations of the elite, charging themwith a responsibility to help those less fortunate. Firstandforemost,theelitemust“establishsomesortofrelationshipbetweenthosewho needhelpandthosewhocanrenderhelp.”Notonlydidshenottakethisrelationshipasgiven, butsheinsisted,“[A]pparentdifferencesmustnotbeemphasized.” 69 Thisproclamationwas notafacileattempttoglossoverclassdifferencesorrelationsofpower.Rather,shecalledfor atotalshiftinracialthinkingaroundcharitablework:“Manyofusmustunlearnmanythings thatwehavealreadylearnedastosocialquestions.”Forinstance,“[I]tisimportantthatwe shouldlearnthatsocialityisaverydifferentthingfrom‘society’asweordinarilyunderstand the term.” Whereas society “differentiates the world of humanity into infinite groups or companiesforsocialintercourse…astheessenceofhighliving,”socialitydenoted“ameans ofsisterhoodandbrotherhoodbasedonsomethingdeeperthanselfishpreferences.” 70 Shedid notrejectnotionsof“society,”whichsheusedsynonymouslywithclass,butshedidcallfora racialfocusonsociality.Socialitywas“divine”andgrewoutofa“largerelementoflove,” whichconsequentlygave“peculiarvaluetowoman’swork.” 71 Bymakingthisshiftfroma notion of society to sociality, women would be able to ascertain needs and “apply the remedies” to the causes of misfortune. “Thus,” she concludes, “do we beginto feel the difference between the old and new philosophy of social relationships.” 72 This “new philosophyofsocialrelationships”shouldemerge,notfromclass-drivensentiment,butrather fromasenseoflove,kinship(“brotherhoodandsisterhood”),andconnectednesstoone’s fellow humanbeings.Womenwouldbear the primaryresponsibilitytocultivate this new sociality. Williamsrejectedanotionof“natural”andessentialistracialunityasthebasisforBlack racialaffinity.Rather,shebelievedinwhatIrefertoasacultivatedandintentionalracial socialitybornoutofloveforone’sfellowwo/manandradicalempathyformembersofone’s race.Inmultipleplaces,shearguedthatraceunitywasnotanautomaticbyproductofthe experiencesofslaveryandracism.Racialidentitywasnot“natural”butrathercontingent,and conceivedthroughanactiveprocessofcommunityorganizingandknowledgemaking.Itwasa product not of shared essence, but rather an increasing commitment to a kind of social relationshipbasedonacknowledgementofasharedsetofsocialconditions,namely“race

prejudice.”Herideasabout“racialsociality”addanimportantdimensiontocriticaltheories ofrace atthe turnofthe centurybybothrejectingnotions of biological essentialismor automaticaffinityandyetretainingadeeplyembodiedsenseofracialconnectivity,whichI willturntomomentarily.Thefocusonracialsocialityupendsthenarrativeoftheuncritical elitismoftheclubwomenandsuggeststhattheybothacknowledgedclassdifferencesand thoughtincomplex—thoughcriticallyinsufficient—waysabouthowtoamelioratetheeffects ofthosedifferencesthroughtheirracework. To facilitate this new sociality, Williams charged her audience—readers of the AME ChurchReview—withcultivatingabroadanddeepsenseof“untrammeledsympathy”forthe sufferingandmisfortuneofothers.“Bysympathyisnotmeantthatfar-away,kid-glovedand formalsomethingthatenableswomenmerelytoknowofthosewhoneedthem,butthatdeeper andmorespiritualimpulsetohelpfulnessthatwillhelpthemfinddelightinworkingwith, ratherthanfor,theunfortunateoftheirsex.” 73 Heruseof“withratherthanfor”bespeaksa deep respect for the agency of poor Black women, despite her desire to make them respectable.Thisnewsociality,rootedin“untrammeledsympathy,”encodedadeeplyaffective andembodiedsenseofthewaysinwhichBlackwomen’s(andBlackpeople’s)liveswere

interconnected.Infact,therecoursetoaffectivenotionsofsympathy,love,anddelightpointto a longhistoryofaffective politics amongBlackwomen. Consequently, these earlyBlack feministtheoriesofraceshouldinformthecontemporary“turntoaffect.”Theinvocationof

affectinBlackwomen’stheorizingandactivismisfundamentallytiedup,asMelissaHarris-

Perryhasargued,withadesireforsocialrecognitionasbothfullyhumanontheonehandand asfullycapablecitizensontheother.DrawingontheworkofHannahArendt,Harris-Perry argues that“the public sphere makes a unique contributiontohumanself-actualizationby offeringopportunitiesforrecognition.” 74 ThoughWilliamsmisunderstandsthisdesireforrecognitionintermsofaworking-class desireforrecognitionfromtheupperclass,sherightlyrealizesthatthereisafundamentalneed formutualrecognitionintheworkofracialuplift.Herworkappreciatedthefactthat,as MeganWatkinshasargued,“thecorporealinstantiationofrecognition,thesensationsonemay feelinbeingrecognized”…accumulate“overtime,fosteringasenseofselfworth.Momentsof recognition,therefore,functionasaffectiveforce.” 75 Thisnotionofcorporealinstantiation— thatis,embodiedawareness—coupledwithnineteenth-centuryBlackwomen’sdeepinsistence onthenotionofimpressibilityasamechanismforthesocialregenerationoftherace,suggest that affective ideas informed their notions of kinship, intellectual labor, and political activism. 76 Moreover,theNACW,asanorganofracepublicopinionandasocialservice organizationthatrecognizedboththeintensityofBlacksufferingandthelimitlessnessofBlack possibility,marshaledacertainlevelof“affectiveforce”inordertodoitsintellectualand politicalwork. ThatsharedsenseofcareandsympathyforthesufferingofBlackwomenthatanimatedthe workoftheNACWarcsbacktotheaffectivetermusedtoframethischapter:organized anxiety.WilliamsdemonstratedthewaysthattheworkoftheNACWhelpedtoinculcatea notionofracialunitythroughthecultivationofbroadracialsympathyandthewaysthatthe NACWhelpedtocodifyracepublicopinion. 77 Racialsocialityandracepublicopinionare

twocriticalcomponentsinthecreationofaBlackpublicsphere.SoWilliams’sworkoffersa fundamentalinsightabouttheoperationofBlackpubliclife,namelythatBlackpublicsare forged—organized—onanxiousterms.Anxietyisusedinherworknotonlyinthenegativebut alsointhepositivesense;thatis,notonlyintermsofwhatBlackpeopleareanxiousaboutbut alsowhattheyareanxiousfor.Itissimultaneouslyananxietyofadversityandananxietyof aspiration.Therewasacollectiveanxietyofaversiontotheoppressivesocialconditions Blackpeopleenduredandalsoakindofaspirationalanxietytoachievesomethingdifferent. Williamsusesanxietyinbothsensesin“TheClubWoman”essay.Sheregistersheraversionto thesocialrepressionofBlackwomeninherproclamationaboutorganizedanxiety.Later,in celebratingtheworkofagroupofMidwesternclubwomenwhohadstartedakindergarten,she wrotethattheirsuccess“isahappyjustificationofthewisdomandanxietyofthecoloredclub womantoextendtheseschoolswhereveritispossibletodoso.” 78 Inthislattercase,heruse ofthetermanxietyreferredtoBlackwomen’saspirationstocreatebetterschoolsforBlack children. Certainly,muchoftheanxietyattheheartoftheclubmovementcamefromaninvestmentin respectabilitypolitics, middle-class aspiration, and the demand that all true race women conformtosuchdictates.Indeed,racialrespectabilityemergesagainandagainasacritical pillaroftheNACWSchoolofthought.However,racialrespectabilityhadbothclass-based andgender-basedinvestments.Muchoftheanxietythatracewomenexperiencedissuedfrom theirconcernoverthestultifyinganddamagingdefinitionsofBlackwomen’ssexualityand gender identity. Thus, racial respectabilityacted not onlyas a tool of class and gender disciplining(seechapterthree)butalsoasatoolofgenderdefinitionandtheorization.This fact,togetherwiththeotherpillarsoftheNACWschool—thecombattingofBlackwomen’s civicunknowabilityandepistemicsubjugation,thetrainingofaBlackfemaleleadershipclass, theforgingofanewracialsocialitythatrespectedtheagencyofallBlackwomenregardless ofclass,thereshapingofpublicopinionthroughembodieddiscourse,andthesystematicstudy anddispensationofpracticalformsofknowledgewithinlocalBlackcommunities—militates againstanuncriticaldismissalofthesewomenonthegroundsofelitism. The organized anxiety of women placed Black women’s own racial struggles and aspirationsatthecenterofBlackpubliclife.ThesewomenbecamenotonlybuildersofBlack socialandbrick-and-mortarinstitutions,butalsoknowledgecreatorsandshapersofpublic opinion. Their organized anxietywas rooted inthe recognitionthatBlackwomen’s lived realitiesaredeeplytiedtothesetofideascirculatingabouttheminthesocialworld.Atthe same time, however, Williams’s notion of racial sociality suggests the need for a less superficialformofracialrecognition,onelessconcernedwithshiftingracepublicopinionand moreconcernedwithallowingBlackwomentobothseeandbeseenbyeachotherassubjects worthyofsocialprotectionsandpossibilities. Fannie Barrier Williams and MaryChurchTerrell combined intellectual and political resources(andclassaccess)toshapetheNACWintoaformidableintellectualandpolitical forcedrivingBlackpoliticsintheearlytwentiethcentury.MaryChurchTerrellmanagedto steerthecriticalterrainofherlifebeyondherinitialinvolvementwithNACWintoalarger andmoreprominentleadershiprolethatlastedthroughseveraldecades.Inthenextchapter,I considerthecreativewaysthatTerrellcarriedtheinfluenceoftheNACWSchoolofThought

intoawholenewgenerationofBlackpolitics.

CHAPTER2

“Proper,DignifiedAgitation”

TheEvolutionofMaryChurchTerrell

Becausethereareblatant,rattle-brainedpeoplewhotearpassiontotattersabout wrongs,bothrealandfancied,inseasonandout,itisunreasonabletocondemn theproper,dignifiedagitationwhichistheonlywaytoarousetheconscienceofthe publicagainstevilsandinjustice.

—MaryChurchTerrell,ca.1913

nearlyNovember1950,theCoordinatingCommitteefortheEnforcementofD.C.Anti-

I Discrimination Laws (CCEDADL), under the chairship of eighty-seven-year-old Mary ChurchTerrell,launchedaneight-weekcampaigntostopdiscriminationattheKresge’sFive andDimeStoreatthecornerof7thAvenueandEStreetintheNation’sCapital. 1 Overthe courseoftwomonths,theypicketedandboycottedKresge’sbecausestorepolicywouldnot allowBlackpatronstositdowntoeatatthestore’slunchcounters;insteadBlackcustomers wereforcedtostandandwaitinlonglines.Afterforcingthestoretochangeitspolicy,the

CoordinatingCommitteesentaletteronJanuary15,1951,tosupportersdeclaringvictory.The

CommitteeaskedAfricanAmericanstobeginpatronizingKresge’sagain“sothatthevictory wonwillnotbelostthroughlackofexerciseofanew-wonright.”Theletterurgedpatronsand theirfriends:“SITDOWN,DON’TSTANDUP!” 2 Thisparticularvictoryfitwithinaneffort

begunin1944byHowardUniversitystudentstodesegregatetherestaurantsonUStreetthat

flankedtheHowardcampus.TerrelllivedinthecenterofthesocialupheavalonTStreetin LeDroitPark,locatedbetweenUStreetandHowardUniversity. Evenasanoctogenarian,MaryChurchTerrelloftenshoweduptoparticipateinprotests andonpicketlines.InonephotooftheKresge’sprotest,shedonswhatappearstobealong Blackfurcoat,apocketbook,adecorativehat,andacane,whileholdingasignthatsays

“Don’tBuyatKresge’s,theonlyJimCrowDimeStoreon7thStreet.”Inanother,shestands

proudandresolute,peeringfiercelyatthecamera,assheandagroupofcomradesprotest segregationatMurphy’sRestaurantonUStreet.Vitalityandverve,andwhatmighttodaybe called“swagger,”animatewhatTerrellherselfcalled“dignifiedagitation.”Thoughshehelped to constructthe frameworkfor the politics ofrespectabilityand racial upliftas the first President of the NACW, reading her impressive life of intellectual and political accomplishments through a respectable frame emerges as both a limiting and reductive approach.Inthischapter,Iseektodothreethings:first,IhopetorecuperateMaryChurch Terrellasacriticaltheoristoftwentieth-centuryracialresistanceefforts.Herformulationof “dignifiedagitation,”whichsheworkedoutoverthecourseoffiftyyearsofpublicspeaking andwriting,conceptuallybridgestheupliftpoliticsthatcharacterizedtheworkoftheNACW Schoolandothernineteenth-centuryBlackorganizationswiththetwentieth-centurynonviolent, direct-actioncivilrightsstrategiesthatcametocharacterizeTerrell’sactivismduringtheearly

1950sattheadventoftheCivilRightsMovement.Asanarchitectofupliftpoliticsandthe

upliftinfrastructureformostofherlife,Terrell’slifefullyinhabitstheparadigmofrespectable racewomanhood.Atthesametime,shealsomischievouslyanddefiantlyexceedstheframeof respectabilitypolitics. Second, Iexcavate her importance as a theoristto the intellectual historyofBlackfeministthought.Sheoffersoneoftheearliestandmostforthrightformulations ofwhatwenowtermintersectionalityintheopeningpagesofhermemoir,inadditionto offeringhumorouslyprogressivetakesondatinginthemidstofretrogradegenderpolitics aboutwomen’srolesinthehome. 3 Thus,Iconsiderwhatherdiscussionsofdanceandcreative maneuversinthefaceofracismmighthavetoteachusaboutBlackwomen’spleasurepolitics andaboutthepleasuresofresistance.Third,Iundertakekeyclosereadingsofmomentsfrom herautobiography,whichofferusasenseofthesocialforcesthatshapedherlifeandthe publicandprivatelivesofracewomen. ColoredWomaninaWhiteWorld (1940) is simultaneouslytheoretical tome, political manifesto,andmemoir.Asthefirstbook-lengthpublicleadershipmemoir publishedbya Blackwoman,itfitswithinthegenreofwhatMargoV.Perkinscalls“politicalautobiography,” whichmanyprominentAfricanAmericanwomensuchasAngelaDavis,AssataShakur,and ElaineBrownwillturntointhelatterhalfofthetwentiethcentury. 4 Itthereforeconstitutesa criticalsiteintheintellectualgeographyofracewomenbeingmappedinthisbook.More importantly,itoffersararelookintotheinteriorlifeofoneofthemostprominentracewomen ofthetwentiethcentury.Init,shesharesherthoughtsonthepoliticsofdatingandmarriageasa raceleader,herstruggleswithdepression,andherloveofdancing.Theinformationinthetext, coupledwithmaterialsfromher archives,alsooffer acomplexpictureofher social and intellectualrelationshipswithotherraceleaderslikehermentorFrederickDouglassandher sometimes-rivalIdaB.Wells.Terrellgivesusapictureofsomeofthehumorous,mischievous, andoftencomplicatedwaysthatsheresistedboththepoliticsofracismandthepoliticsof racialrespectabilitythroughoutherlife.Theephemeralandaffectiveaspectsofoutwitting constrictingsocial forces aroundtheoperations ofraceandgender—thatis,thejoys and pleasures—arefrequentlyhardertocapture,particularlyifwelookatracewomensolely throughframesofdissemblanceandrespectability.ButTerrellemergesinthisbookasdeft negotiatorofthecompetingprivateandpublicdemandsofherlife.

FIGURE3.MaryChurchTerrellataProtest.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts

FIGURE3.MaryChurchTerrellataProtest.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts

Division,HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

RaceWomen’sLeadershipafterFrederickDouglass

Asthestoryfrequentlygoes,thedeathofFrederickDouglassinFebruaryof1895leftagapin

publicBlackracialleadership,andBookerT.Washingtonsteppedintofillthatgap.However, theautobiographies ofMaryChurchTerrell (1940) andIdaB.Wells (1970) intentionally contestthisGreatRaceManaccountofturn-of-the-centuryracialleadership.Bothwomen pointedlysituatethemselvesasprotégésofDouglassand,consequently,asheirsapparenttohis trajectoryofracialleadership. TerrellhappenedtoseeDouglassonthedayhediedatameetingoftheNationalCouncilof

WomeninWashington,D.C.ThetwoinitiallymetinWashingtonintheearly1890s.Duringthe

1893World’sFair,theytouredsomeoftheexhibitstogether,andheintroducedhertothe

poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. A celebrity among Black and women’s audiences, the NationalCouncilofWomenreceivedDouglasswithgreatfanfareanda“Chatauquasalute,” Terrellrecalledinherautobiography. 5 TerrelldescribedherencounterwithDouglassafterthe meeting:

HeandIleftwhatisnowcalledtheColumbiaTheatreandwalkedtogethertothecorner.Therehestopped andaskedmetohavelunchwithhim.ButIwasnotfeelingverywellanddeclinedtheinvitation,alas!Lifting thelarge,lightsombrero,whichheoftenwore,hebademegood-bye.Aboutseveno’clockthateveninga friendcamebyourhousetotellusthatFrederickDouglasshadjustdiedsuddenly,whilehewasatthetable describingtohiswifetheovationtenderedhimintheforenoonbythemembersandofficersoftheNational CouncilofWomen. 6

ColoredWomaninaWhiteWorldcopiously(andtediously)recountsallthefamouspeople thatMaryChurchTerrell metover the course ofher life.Buther choice tomentionthis encounterwithDouglassservesthedualfunctionofconfirmingherstatusasamemberofthe Blackelite,whilealsonarrativelypositioningherselfashisintellectualandpoliticalprogeny. Byspeakingofhisadvocacyonbehalfofwomen,TerrellframedDouglass’slifenotsolelyin termsofhisadvocacyfor racial freedom,butalsointermsofhisferventandunyielding commitmenttowomen’sequality,amovethatsymbolicallymadespaceforherandotheryoung womenraceleaderslikeIdaB.Wells. Ida B. Wells also gave extensive mention of her relationship with Douglass in her autobiography,CrusadeforJustice.DouglassandWellsbecameacquaintedafterDouglass

readher1892editorialintheNewYorkAgeaboutthelynchingofherfriendsinMemphis.He

invitedher“togiveanaddressbeforehishomechurch,MetropolitanAME,inWashington, D.C.”inlateOctober. 7 DouglassalsohelpedWellsraisemoneytoproduceherWorld’sFair Pamphlet“WhytheColoredAmericanIsNotattheWorld’sFair,”andwroteaforewordforit. Wellscalledhim“thegreatestmanourracehasproduced.” 8 Evenso,Douglass’s relationshiptoBlackwomenintellectuals was notuncomplicated. Despitehisrelationships,heactedasaracialgatekeeperforwomenseekingracialleadership.

InAugust1892,inresponsetoaqueryfromMonroeMajorsforDouglass’srecommendations

onwomentobeincludedinabookentitledNotedNegroWomen,Douglasswrote:

[W]ehavemanyestimablewomenofourvarietybutnotmanyfamousones.Itisnotwelltoclaimtoomuch forourselvesbeforethepublic.…IhavethusfarseennobookofimportancewrittenbyaNegrowomanand none among us who can appropriatelybe called famous. … Manyof the names you have are those of admirablepersons,cultivated,refinedandladylike.Butitdoesnotfollowthattheyarefamous.Letusbetrue anduselanguagefaithfully. 9

Tobefair,thesewordswerewrittenafewweeksbeforeAnnaJuliaCooper’sbookwas publishedandbeforeWellspublishedherfirstantilynchingpamphlet.However,Cooperhad

beenlecturingtowidepublicacclaimfromthemid1880sforward,andFrancesHarperwas

certainlyfamousby1892.Ontheonehand,DouglassconfrontedthesameproblemthatFannie

BarrierWilliamsconfrontedandaddressedinherWorld’sFairSpeech.Therewasnotyeta publicBlackwomen’s leadershipclass.Onthe other hand,his choicetoparse the word famousinsuchconservativetermsmadeitimpossibleforwomentomeethisstrictcriteria.In

manyways,thisforeshadowsthemeticulousparsingofthetermintellectualinthe1960s,

which I discuss in chapter four, that was designed to exclude Black women from that designation.DouglasslivedinWashington,D.C.,withtheprominentwomenwhohadfounded theColoredWomen’sLeagueinthespringofthatyear.Hemostassuredlykneworknewof Cooper,Terrell,EllaD.Barrier,HallieQuinnBrown,andothers.Yethedeliberatelychose nottomentionanyofthem.

LayingclaimtoDouglassasakindofmentordid,however,createroomforTerrelland Wellstoshareinhisleadershipinheritanceafterhisdeath.Byplacingthisdiscussionintheir autobiographies writteninthe 1930s, these womensoughtto revise the racial leadership genealogiesthatfavoredtheDuBois–Washingtondyadattheirexpense.Thediscussionofhis deathinboththeirmemoirsoffersanimportantracialleadershipcounter-narrativetotherace manleadershipmodelthatseemedtotakefirmrootafter1895. 10

Meddling:ATheoryofAgitation

In1904,agroupofBlackeditors,headedbyJ.W.E.Bowen,createdaBlackliteraryand

political magazine called Voice of the Negro. Terrell regularly contributed biographical sketchesofprominentracefiguresand,occasionally,apoliticalessay.Shepublishedoneof those essays, “The Missionof Meddler,” inAugust 1905. “Everybodywho has tried to advancetheinterestsofthehumanracebyredressingwrongsorbyinauguratingreformshas firstbeencalledameddler,”shewrote. 11 Yet,shelaidoutasystematiccaseforthepolitical necessityofmeddling.As bothpublic intellectual workandpolitical theorizing,Terrell’s essaymarksanimportantmomentinmappingherownintellectualterrainandherincreasing interestinracialagitationasaformofpoliticalengagement.Theessay—adefenseofmeddling as a political act—also contains the seeds of comic whimsyand political mischief that sometimesemergeinTerrell’swork.Forinstance,tothosewhotookissuewithmeddlingon theprinciplethatitwouldundulyinvolvethemintheaffairsofsomeoneelse,shewrote, “[T]hisdefinitionticklestheselfisholdcrustaceanstodeath;fortheyconsiderthatitabsolves themcompletelyfromallresponsibilityfortheirneighbor’swelfare.” 12 Nevertheless,TheUnitedStateshadan“imperativeneed”for“active,insistentandfearless meddlerswhowillspendtheirtimeinvestigatinginstitutions,customs,andlawswhoseeffect onanycolororclassisdepressingorbad.” 13 Forinstance,intheU.S.context,unlikeRussia orGreatBritain,whichalsoneededtheirownmeddlers,“themeddlershouldtakeitupon himselftoaskdisagreeablequestionsaboutthepolitical corruptionwhichmakesasingle whitemaninonesectionequaltoseveninanother.”TheAmericanmeddlershouldfurther

inquire why intelligent, worthy, and well-to-do citizens are denied the rights guaranteed them by the constitutions,becausetheircomplexionhappensnottobefashionableintheparticularsectionwhichtreats them as peons andslaves,whilemenwhoareinferiortothem inbothintelligenceandrespectabilityare grantedalltheirrights,privileges,andimmunitiessimplybecausetheirfacesarewhite,althoughitisthrough noeffort,ormerit,orprowessontheirpartthatthisdesirablecomplexionhasbeensecured. 14

LikehercounterpartFannieWilliamshaddoneadecadeearlier,sheexposedthemythof Americanmeritocracyandtheunfairnessofwhite-skinprivilege. Yet,shenoticedthatBlackpeoplewithclassprivilegewereknownfor notmeddling:

“[T]hose who have had the advantages ofeducationand culture do not, as a rule, make sufficient inquiries about the habits and conditions of the unwashed, unlettered, and the unkempt.” 15 Despiteherimportantcritiqueofclassprivilege,sheundercutthepowerofher ownobservationinthenextlinebysuggestingthat“theliteratedonotinterferesufficiently withtheilliterate,whoseconductandwhosecrimesbringshametotheraceanddisgraceto

themselves.” 16 Ontheonehand,TerrellseemeddisgustedattheapathyoftheBlackmiddle classandframedagitation,interference,andmeddlingasworkinserviceofracialjustice.On theotherhand,sheoftenshamedanddemonizedtheBlackpoor.Atbest,Terrell’sformulation ofmeddlingisunderstoodasadouble-edgedsword.Hercondescensionreekedoftheworst kindofracialrespectabilitypoliticsthatunwittinglyupheldthelogicsofwhitesupremacy, evenassheandhercounterpartstriedtoamelioratetheterriblesocialconditionsfacedbythe Blackpoor. 17 DespitethesecriticalblindspotsinregardstotheBlackworkingclass,Terrellhadbegun undertheguiseof“themeddler”tolayoutanexplicittheoryofracialagitation.Shecontinued

todevelophertheoryofagitationinanunidentifiedspeechwrittenaround1913.“Sometime

agoitbecamethefashiontohootandjeeratagitatorsineveryconceivableway,”shetoldher audience. 18 Thosecoloredpeoplewhoinsisted

thatitwasourdutytolettheworldknow,forinstance,howwefeltabouthavingourrightsascitizensviolently snatchedaway,howalarmedwewereattheresultofwholesaledisfranchisementofcoloredmeninawhole section,howweweremisrepresentedwhenlynchingwasdiscussed,howcruelandterribleistheConvict LeaseSystem,thatnewformofslaveryinsomerespectsmorecruelandmorecrushingthantheold&Ifa ColoredPersoninsistedthatitwasourdutyasaracetocallattentiontoallthis,Isay,hewastoldthathewas juststirringuptrouble,thathehadbetterbequiet,agitationneverdidanygood. 19

NotmuchhadchangedinthewayofBlackeliteapathyby1913.Notonlyhadthesepeoplenot

becomemeddlers,buttheyalsohadbecomethegroup,whoinTerrell’s estimation,most stridentlydiscouragedagitation:“Intelligentmenandwomenwhoholddoplomas[sic]from college,whosebrainshadbeentrainedtothinkwereasloudandbitterintheirdenunciationof agitatorsaswasthehumbletoilerwhodidnotknowhisa-b-cs.Andyetthesepeoplehadread history.” 20 Thatreadingofhistory,sheargued,shouldhaveexposedthemtomensuchas abolitionistWilliamLloyd Garrison. Inher 1905 essay, she had invoked Garrisonas an exemplarymeddler whose willingness to interfere withthe Peculiar Institutionhad been

instrumentalinendingslavery.By1913,shearguedthatGarrison’shistoryintheabolition

movementdemonstratedthat“ifithadnotbeenagitation,continuous,earnestalmostfierce agitationagainsttheiniquitousinstitutionofslavery,wemighthaveallbeenslavestoday.” 21 Meddling, then, had merely been a euphemism for agitation, and by 1913, she clearly determinedtothrowofftheuseofeuphemismsanddriverighttothepoint.Surely“college educatedmenandwomenknewthatnoracewhichalloweditsrightsviolentlytobesnatched awaywithoutaloudandearnestprotestagainstit,couldmaintainitsownself-respect.”Yet, muchtoherchagrin,racialelitescontinuedtosuggestthat“agitationwoulddousnogood.” 22 Tothesecritics,sheriposted,“itisquitetruethatthewrongkindofagitationwoulddous nogood.Thewrongkindofchurch-goingorthewrongkindofanygoodthingwilldousno good.” 23 Inlanguagethatshewouldreturntoinher1951speech,shesetaboutmakingclear exactlywhattherightkindofagitationshouldlooklike.Deridingthe“blatant,rattle-brained peoplewhotearpassiontotattersaboutwrongs,bothrealandfancied,inseasonandout,” Terrell insisted that it was nonetheless “unreasonable to condemn the proper, dignified agitationwhichis the onlywayto arouse the conscience ofthe public againstevils and injusticesofacertainkind.” 24 Dignifiedagitationwasproperagitation;andthedignifiedclass

shouldbeinthevanguardofdignifiedagitators.Dignifiedagitationtookasitsgoaltheshifting of public opinionbyunapologeticallycallingattentionto the violationof rights and the preponderanceofwrongs.HerinvocationofdignityalsorecallsCooper’scallsforBlack womentosecurethe“undisputeddignityof[their]womanhood.”Ontheonehand,Terrell,asI willdemonstratemomentarily,invoked“dignified”synonymouslywithrespectable.Buther useofthatwordalsosuggeststhatsheconcedestheinherentdignityandpersonhoodofBlack people, and thatitis fromthatspace of“undisputed dignity” thatshe advocates for the importanceofagitationasameanstosecurethedignityofBlacklife. Hercommitmentstoracialagitationbothreviseandaugmentexistinggenealogiesofracial agitationtheorywithinBlackintellectualthought,especiallyamongAfricanAmericanwomen. IdaB.Wellsisusuallytheracewomanmostassociatedwiththeworkofracialagitation.She developedherphilosophyofracialagitationunderthementorshipofnewspapereditorT. Thomas Fortune,one ofthe mostradical race theorists ofthe nineteenthcentury. 25 Under Fortune’s tutelage, Wells rejected saccharine aspirations toward racial integration and embracedarmedself-defenseasaresponsetolynchingandwhiteracistviolence.Terrellis rarelyunderstoodtobeapartofthissameintellectualgenealogy,usuallybecauseofherclass politics, butlike Wells, she rejected upliftpolitics as the sole or primarypathto Black freedom. Bothwomenbelieved ininsistent and sustained agitationto bringabout social change. Wells and Terrell had a contentious relationship, because Wells blamed Terrell for

disinvitingherasaspeakeratthe1899NACWConventioninChicago.Infact,FannieBarrier

Williams and the Chicago Clubwomeninitiated the snub, undoubtedlyputoffbyWells’s growingandvocaldisdainforthephilosophiesofBookerT.Washington. 26 Unaware,Wells directed her vitriol toward Terrell, a figure whomshe had deeplyadmired up until that moment.Thedifferenceinleadershipstylesbetweenthetwowomenalsodidnothelptheir relationship.Terrellwasapoliticalpowerbrokerwhohadtheabilitytobringcoalitionsof people together because ofher judicious parliamentaryskills. Wells’s abrasive approach tendedtoalienatehercolleagues,thoughtheyusuallyhaddeeprespectforher.Terrellweighed politicalallegiancescarefully,andoftenactedasmediatorbetweencompetinginterests.Her membershipintheNAACPprovidesacaseinpoint. ThoughshewasanardentadmireroftheTuskegeemodel,andherhusbandaBookerite politicalappointee,TerrellbelievedinliberaldemocraticideasandthoughtthatBlackpeople shouldagitateforpoliticalrights.She,therefore,chosetojointheNAACPeventhoughher “husbandwaswarnedthatthisactiononhiswife’spartwouldalienateDr.Washingtonfrom himandwouldfinallyleadtopoliticalruin.” 27 Inresponse,theTerrellsattemptedarhetorical sleightofhandintheirreplytoWashingtonsupporters:“[T]hepeoplewhotookitforgranted thatDr.WashingtonwasantagonistictotheprinciplesenunciatedbytheNationalAssociation fortheAdvancementofColoredPeople…evidentlybelievedhewasinfavorofhavingthe

rights,privileges,andopportunitieswhichothercitizensenjoywithheldfromhisownheavily-

handicappedgroup.” 28 SuchaviewofWashingtonwas“reprehensible.”Whentheattemptat inversionfailed,andWashingtonvoicedhisdispleasure,RobertTerrellostensiblydecided thatitwasworththerisk.Inactuality,however,MaryTerrellmanagedtostayinWashington’s

goodgracesbygivinghiminsiderinformation,particularlyaroundracialdissensionwithinthe NAACP.ShealsoconvincedhimthatsheandDuBois“[had]absolutelynothingtodowith eachother.” 29 Washington,consequently,cametoviewTerrellasaninvaluableallythatwould keephiminformedoftheinnerworkingsoftheorganization.ThatTerrellbothparticipatedin thefoundingoftheNAACPandbuttedheadswithDuBois,yetmanagedtoremaininthegood gracesofWashington,isatestamenttoherskillasanegotiator. 30 However,thedifferencesbetweenWellsandTerrellwerenotonlyinstylebutinsubstance. In 1891, Wells wrote an editorial for the New York Age justifying her defense of the “retaliatorymeasures”takenbyBlackcitizensinGeorgetown,Kentucky,inresponsetoa lynching.Shewrote,“[F]undamentallymenhaveaninherentrighttodefendthemselveswhen lawful authorityrefuses todoitfor them.” 31 Terrell,however, insistedonnever “tearing passiontotatters.”AsapeaceactivistinbothWorldWars,Terrellwouldnothavesupported Wells’scallsforarmedself-defense,thoughshewassympathetictoBlackpeoplewhowere beingattackedinraceriots.Terrellalsohadafarmoreoptimisticviewofwhitepeoplethan didWells.Terrell made sure,inthe introductiontoher book,toacknowledge the “many genuinefriendsinthedominantraceasIhavehad.”Wells,ontheotherhand,alwaysremained skepticalofwhitepeople’scapacityforchange,despiteherfriendshipwithprominentwhites

likeSusanB.Anthony.Forinstance,inaneditorialshewrotein1885attemptingtodissuade

African Americans fromaligning with either political party, she considered whether “if appealed to inhonestythe white people ofthe Southcould notand would notrefuse us justice.”Inanswertothisquery,shereplied:“Idon’tbelieveit,becausetheyhavebeen notablydeaftocallsforjusticeheretofore,aswellastothepersuasionsinourbehalf,oftheir ownpeople.” 32 Despitethesecriticaldifferences,theybothbelievedthatthosewhoperpetratedinjustices towardBlackpeopleshouldbeexposed,shamed,andcompelledtochange,oftenthroughthe powerofthepen.Terrellchallengedthoseinheraudienceduringher“DignifiedAgitation” speech“tolearntoexpresstheirthoughtsasforciblyandclearlyaspossible.”Butlestthey misunderstandheradmonition,shetoldthem:

[D]onotunderstandmetoadviseyoutolearntodoprettywriting.Inthisdayandtime,wheneverybodyistoo busytoreadeventhebooksandarticlesbearingdirectlyupontheirbusiness,prettywritingwilldonogood.It is as muchoutoffashionas knee-breeches andhoopskirts.Butthereis animperativeofstrong,clear- headedwriterswhoknowhowtopresentfactsinaforceful,tactful,attractivemanner,sothatsentimentmay becreatedinbehalfoftherace.” 33

Deeplyinfluencedbythecallsoftheirclubwomencomradesandcolleaguesbackinthe1890s

forwomen’sparticipationintheproductionofarobustraceliterature,Terrellwouldreturn repeatedlytotheimportanceofwritingasapoliticalact.Anditisthisbeliefthatinspiredher

tobeginwritingherownautobiographysometimeduringthelate1920s.

TheDoubleHandicapofRaceandSex:TowardIntersectionality

Terrellbeganhernarrativewithadeclaration:“Thisisthestoryofacoloredwomanlivingin

awhiteworld.Itcannotpossiblybelikeastorywrittenbyawhitewoman.Awhitewoman

hasonlyonehandicaptoovercome—thatofsex.Ihavetwo—bothsexandrace.Ibelongtothe onlygroupinthiscountry,whichhastwosuchhugeobstaclestosurmount.Coloredmenhave onlyone—thatofrace.” 34 Theclear framingofher lifeintermsofdual andinterlocking operationsofracismandsexismisveryimportanttomappingthegenealogicaldevelopmentof intersectionalthoughtwithinBlackfeminism.Althougharangeofbothacademicandpolitical thinkerswouldemergeinthelatterquarterofthetwentiethcenturytoarticulatethepolitical implicationsofBlackwomen’sinterlockingandsimultaneousoppressions,Terrellveryclearly

articulateswhatisatstakeby1940.WhatFrancesBealewillcall“doublejeopardy”in1970,

Terrellcalleda“doublehandicap”thirtyyearsearlier. ThoughacursorynodisalwaysgrantedtoTerrellinconversationsonBlackfeminism,her assertionofthewaysthatraceandgenderpoliticsworktomakethestoriesandexperiencesof Black women invisible is one of the earliest articulations of the political stakes of intersectionality.Notonlydidshewanttodistinguishhernarrativefromthatofwhitewomen, butshealsowanted“toshowwhatacoloredwomancanachieveinspiteofthedifficultiesby whichraceprejudiceblocksherpath.” 35 Racewomenexperiencedsexismdifferentlyfrom white women, and racismdifferently fromBlack men. By framing her life narrative in intersectionalidentityterms,shemadethecasethatwomanhoodinparticularisasignificant categoryofexperienceinshapingBlackfemaleraceleaders.Throughhernarrationofthe personal experiences of marriage and motherhood, and her more public experiences of intellectual and political development, she demonstrates the manner in which her social locationasaBlackwomanuniquelyshapedeachoftheseexperiences. Terrell’sautobiographyshouldbeunderstoodwithinthecontextofherbroaderpolitical frameworkof“proper,dignifiedagitation.”Forinstance,invokinglanguageidenticaltothat foundintheepigraphtothischapter,shewrites,“Ihavenottriedtoarousethesympathyofmy readersbytearingpassiontotatters,soastoshowhowwretchedIhavebeen.” 36 Byreminding heraudiencethatsherefusedtouseunnecessarilyincendiaryanddivisivespeech,sheinvoked herownnotionofdignifiedagitation:“Idonotwanttowageaholywaroranyotherkindof waruponagroupwhichisstrongandpowerfulenoughtocircumscribemyactivitiesand preventmefromenteringfieldsinwhichIshouldliketowork.…Nocoloredwomaninher rightmindwhohashadasmanygenuinefriendsinthedominantraceasIhavehad…couldbe bitter towardthewholegroup.” 37 Becomingconciliatoryandraciallyrespectableintone, Terrellundoubtedlywantedtowinthetrustandconfidenceofheraudience,whomsheclearly understoodtobemultiracial. Shealsoreturnstothissentimentattheendofthebook:

In writing the story of my life I might have related many more incidents than I have, showing my discouragementanddespairattheobstaclesandlimitationsplaceduponmebecauseIamacoloredwoman. SeveraltimesIhavebeendesperateandwonderedwhichwayIshouldturn.Ihavepurposelyrefrainedfrom enteringtoodeeplyintoparticulars andemphasizingthis phaseofmylife.Ihavegiventhebitterwiththe sweet,thesweetpredominating,Ithink. 38

Inspeakingofwhatisnotspokenaboutinhernarrative,ofherinability“totellthewhole truth,”Terrell pointsustoanabsencethatisattheheartofthisproject.CarlaPeterson, drawingontheworkofpostcolonialtheorists,arguesthatthesekindsofelisionsinAfrican

Americanwomen’sliteraturesignalachallengetotheboundariesofdominantdiscourseby

“inscribingbothpresenceandabsencein[these]texts.” 39 Terrell,then,resistsnarratingastory of discouragement, despair, and desperation but fully acknowledges the ways that her encounterswithracismandsexismhaveproducedthisfull rangeofemotion.Instead,she focusesonamorepublicstoryoftriumph,onethatisperhapsmorepoliticallypalatable.In thisregard,thepublicnatureofherstoryfitswithWilliams’sconceptionoforganizedanxiety asthekindofanimatingemotionalethosofBlackpubliclife.Terrelldoesnotdenytherangeof anxiety-producingexperiences,butsheframestheseexperiencesintermsofhowtheyinfluence andinformhercareerasanorganizerandthoughtleader. Blackwomen’sleadershipmemoirshavebeenacriticalsiteforthearticulationoftheir intellectualandpoliticalgoals.Lessconcernedwiththeinteriorityoftheirsubjects,thisgenre

affordedBlackwomen,particularlythosewhoemergedduringthe1890s,theopportunityto

theorizeaboutraceandgenderpoliticsinwaysthattheirlackofaccesstoproducingmore

formalacademictextsdidnot.Infact,theleadershipmemoiristhemostcommonkindofbook-

lengthworkproducedbyearlyBlackwomenpublicintellectuals,afactthatstandsinmarked distinctiontotherangeoftextsproducedbypublicBlackmen.ForBlackwomen“thepersonal narrative became a historical site on which aesthetics, self-confirmation of humanity, citizenship, and the significance of racial politics shaped African American literary

expression.” 40 Butthesenarrativesalsoservedasasiteoftheorizingaboutracialandgender identity,inadditiontoprovidingspaceinwhichracewomencouldsetforththeir public agendaforracialadvancement,citizenship,thedefenseofBlackhumanityandpersonhood,and ahistoricalknowledgeofBlackachievement.OfthistheoreticalimpulseundertakeninBlack autobiography,KennethMosternaversthat“nearlyall AfricanAmericanpolitical leaders (regardlessofpolitics;self-designatedorappointedbyone’scommunity)havechosentowrite personalstoriesasameansoftheorizingtheirpoliticalpositions.” 41 Terrellunderstoodher positionas“acoloredwomaninawhiteworld”tobeapoliticizedposition,whichmadeher lifeofactivismunique.Thus,herautobiographyprovidedspaceforhertoarticulatehowher raceandgenderidentityhadshapedherlifeandherpolitics.Thoughintersectionalaccountsof identityarethecurrentorderofthedayincontemporaryfeministscholarship,Terrell’sexplicit intersectionalframingofherlifestory,herinvocationofaBlackwoman’sstandpointthrough whichtotellhernarrative,isthefirstofitskind.

BlackMarriagePoliticsandRaceWork

Thefirstchapterbeginswithanunexpectedrevelation:Mary’smotherattemptedsuicidewhile pregnant withher. She attributes Louisa Church’s actions onlyto anunexplained “fit of despondency”andthenmovesswiftlyontofondermemoriesanddescriptionsofherselfasan infant. 42 Thoughbeginningwithone’soriginstoryisstandardforthesetypesofnarratives, certainlyTerrellnarratesanuncommonsetofcircumstancesinframingherownlife.She, curiously,never elaborates.Yet,thefactofher mother’ssuicideattempt,andher pointed mentionofit,pointstoahistoryofBlackwomen’spainanddespairthatremainslargely unimaginedandunnarratedorexaminedintheworkofpublicBlackwomen.Evenwithin publicnarrativesthatarelargelynotmeanttogivevoicetoBlackwomen’sinteriorlives,

momentslikethispointustoakindofaffectivearchivethatemergesinpublicBlackwomen’s works, and to which we should pay attention to counteract the obscurantism borne of dissemblance.Thatarchiveatleastgesturestowardthedebilitatingemotionaleffectsofracism andsexismonBlackwomen’slives,eventhoughtheseaccountsarenotfullydeveloped.Itis beyondthescopeofthisbooktoexcavateallthetruthsBlackwomen’saffectivearchives might have to tell, but their presence in Black women’s public narratives should be acknowledgedandinterrogatedmorefully. Thoughbothherfatherandmotherwereformerlyenslaved,theywereindividuallyand collectively economically prosperous. Her mother was a successful owner of one of Memphis’smostexclusivehairsalonsandanartistinhersparetime.ShedivorcedMary’s fatherwhenMarywasayounggirl.Terrellnotedthatit“painedandembarrassed[her]very much,”since“inthosedaysdivorceswerenotsocommonastheyarenow.” 43 Thegender relationshipsthatTerrellencounteredasachildwereverymuchunconventional.Becausethe familyfaredwelleconomically,itisconceivablethatLouChurchdidnothavetowork.But hermotherwasaformidablebusinesswoman,eventuallymovingherhairshoptoNewYork afterMaryleftforschoolinOhio.Thathermotherwaswillingtodivorceherfathersuggestsa womanverymuchwillingtodefythepoliticsofrespectabilityinpursuitofherowngoals. Terrell’saccountofherupbringing,then,suggeststhatherownnotionsofwomanhoodwere deeplyinformedbyamotherinsistentonmakingherownwayintheworld,uninhibitedbythe demandsofmotherhoodandmarriageorthesocialdictatesofrespectability.Maryadmiredher mother’sbusinessacumenandspentseveralpagesbraggingabouthermanytalentsandgifts. ThecarewithwhichTerrellnarrateshermother’sdespair,thepleasurehermothertookfrom painting,andhermother’sdefianceofsocialconventionscreatesaframeforunderstanding Blackwomen’sinteriorlives.Hermother’sunconventionalpost-Emancipationlifegranted Terrellpermissiontonarrate,inthemidstofherdocumentationofherpubliclife,herown interiorlifeofpleasureandpain,oneinwhichsheentersintomarriageonherownterms, battleswithdepressionandmaternaldespair,andhumorouslyandcreativelynegotiatesrace politicsintheDistrictofColumbia.

Inthefallof1891,shemarriedRobertTerrell,aHarvardlawgraduateandfutureD.C.

courtjudge.Atagetwenty-eight,shewasalatebridebythestandardsofherday,andher decisiontomarryRoberthadnotbeeneasy.SheworriedasastudentatOberlinthatherchoice topursuethe“gentleman’scourse”woulddecreaseherprospectsformarriage:“Someofmy friendsandschoolmatesurgedmenottoselectthe‘gentlemen’scourse,’becauseitwouldtake muchlongertocompletethanthe‘ladiescourse.”Moretothepoint,herpeersthoughtthat learningGreek,arequirementinthegentlemen’scourse,“wasunnecessary,ifnotpositively unwomanly.” 44 “Itmight,”shewrote,“ruinmychancesofgettingahusband.”Accordingtoher classmates,shewrote,“Iwouldn’tbehappyifIknewmorethanmyhusband,andtheywarned thattryingtofindamaninourgroupwhoknewGreekwouldbelikehuntingforaneedleina haystack.”Despitetheirprotestationsandherworry,she“decidedtotakealongchance.” 45 Thisdiscussionabouthergendersocializationanditsconnectiontointellectualtrainingis remarkable,becauseitisthefirstpublishedBlackwoman’smemoirtotellastoryabouta Blackwomanbeingpersonallyandpubliclydiscouragedfrompursuingintellectualtraining becauseitwouldunsexherandmakeherunsuitableformarriage.

AnnaJuliaCoopertookamoresardonicapproach—onewewouldseeintoday’sparlance as“snarky”:“Now,astotheresulttowomen,thisisthemostseriousargumenteverused againstthe higher education. Ifitinterferes withmarriage, classical traininghas a grave objectiontoweighandanswer.” 46 Butshesharedherderisionforsuchargumentsinapolitical essay, rather than as a personal reflection on her own life. Not only is Terrell’s frank discussion about courtship rituals and stresses over marriage uncommon within Black women’sautobiography,butthisalsoconstitutesoneofthefirstaccountsofaBlackwoman’s choice to pursue intellectual work despite its potential ramifications for romantic relationships. Terrell’s choices around marriage are very important to understanding the kinds of negotiationspublicBlackwomenmadeinordertopositionthemselvesforlivesofracial service.Inadditiontoherparent’sunconventionaltrajectory,thebrouhahaoverFrederick Douglass’smarriagetohissecondwife(awhitewomannamedHelenPittsDouglass)playeda significantroleinTerrell’sthinkingaboutwhatshewantedinapartner.Frankly,bothsheand WellshadalottosayaboutDouglass’smarriageandthereactionstoit. Terrellwrote:

Iwas greatly surprised and pained at the attitude assumed by many colored people, who criticized Mr. Douglass savagely because he had married a white woman. And these very people were continuously clamoring for equality—absolute equality along all lines. … And yet, when a representative of their race practicesequalitybychoosingashismateanindividualclassifiedaswhite,theseveryadvocatesofequality pounddownuponhimhardandcondemnhimforpracticingwhattheythemselveshavepreachedlongand loud,moreinsistentlythananybodyelse. 47

“WhileIhavenotpatiencewithpeoplewhoassumesuchanattitudeasthat,”shecontinued:

IdecidedthatundernocircumstanceswouldImarryawhitemanintheUnitedStates.Ihavealwaysfeltvery keenlytheindignitiesheapeduponmyrace,eversinceIrealizedhowmanyandhowbigtheyare.AndIknewI wouldbeunhappyifIwerethewifeofamanbelongingtothegroup,whichsanctionedorcondonedthese injusticesorperpetratedthesewrongs.AtanearlyageIreachedtheconclusionthatunderexistingconditions inthiscountrymarriagebetweentheracesherecouldbringverylittlehappinesstoeitheroneofthepartiesto thecontract. 48

Ontheonehand,TerrellvigorouslydefendedDouglass’srighttomarrythepartnerofhis choosing.Buthersweepingstatementthat“marriagebetweentheracesherecouldbringvery littlehappinesstoeitheroneoftheparties,”suggeststhatshewasmorethanalittleskeptical abouttheprospectofsuccessforinterracialmarriages.Moreover,shesignifiedonDouglass’s choicesbymakingitabundantlyandhumorouslyclearthat,thoughshehadhadtheoption,she wouldnevermarryawhiteman:“[N]otincludingtheblindmusician,threewhitemenhave proposed marriage to me.” 49 One of these men, an American whom she met abroad, outrageouslysuggestedthattheycouldsimplymove toMexico,because “youlooklike a Mexican.”Terrellmadeclearthatshespentsomuchtimeaddressingmarriagepoliticsinher bookbecause,shestates,“IampersuadedtheaverageCaucasianinthiscountrybelievesthat thereisnothingwhichcoloredpeopledesiresomuchastomarryintotheirgroup.Itseemsto meitismydutytoinformthosewhoentertainthisopinionthatatleastonecoloredwoman voluntarilyrejectedsuchapropositionthreetimes.” 50

WellsarguedthatsheapprovedofDouglass’smarriagebecause“he,acoloredman,and she,awhitewoman,hadlovedeachotherandmarriedsothattheymightlivetogetherinthe holybondsofmatrimonyratherthanintheillicitrelationshipthatwasthecauseofsomany lynchingsIhadnotedandprotestedagainst.”However,BlackwomenwhovisitedDouglass apparentlyroutinelysnubbedhiswife.DouglassmentionedtoWellsthatshewasthe“only coloredwomansaveMrs.Grimkewhohascomeintomyhomeasaguestandhastreated Helenas a hostess has a rightto be treated byher guest.” 51 Attuned to Blackwomen’s disappointmentthattheGreatRaceMan,FrederickDouglass,hadchosentomarryawhite woman,Idawrote:“I,too,wouldhavepreferredthatMr.Douglasshadchosenoneofthe beautiful,charmingcoloredwomenofmyraceforhissecondwife.But…helovedHelen Pittsandmarriedheranditwasoutrageousthattheyshouldbecrucifiedbybothwhiteand blackpeoplefordoingso.” 52 ThatbothwomendevotedseveralpagestoDouglass’ssecondmarriage,decadesafterthe fact,suggeststhathischoicewassignificantininformingtheirownideasaboutmarriageand racialleadership.Terrellconsideredthehueandcryagainsthismarriagetobeacontradiction againstlargerargumentsforracialequalitythatBlackpeoplecouldnotreallyaffordtomake.

Yet,shealsostridentlyinsistedthatnotonlywasinterracialmarriagepersonallyundesirable,

butshewasnotespeciallyoptimisticaboutitsbroadprospectseither.Shemadeanexception

forDouglass,perhapslikeWellsdid,becauseHelenDouglasshadgoodracialpolitics.Both

women,however,affirmedadesiretoseeBlackmenmarryBlackwomen,andexpressedtheir

owncommitmentasBlackwomentomarryBlackmen.Thesedebatesdemonstratetheextentto

whichthepoliticsofmarriagearedeeplyboundupwithracialleadership,atleastforrace

women.ItisclearthatBlackwomenraceleadersfeltbothanexplicitpersonalandpolitical

commitmenttomarryingwithintherace,inawaythatDouglass,theconsummatenineteenth-

centuryraceman,didnotshare. Bothwomenmarriedmenwhowereremarkablyprogressiveongenderissues.“Someofmy husband’sfriends,”Terrellwrote,“warnedhimgravelyagainstallowinghiswifetowadetoo deeplyintopublicaffairs.…Whenawomanbecamedeeplyinterestedincivicaffairsand startedonapubliccareer,theysaid,thatwasthebeginningofadisastrousend.Undersuch circumstancesahappyhomeisimpossible.” 53 Tohiscredit,RobertTerrell supportedhis wife’scareerandhadbeenanearlysupporterofwomen’ssuffrage.Infact,Terrellnotedthat she had little confidence in her ability to speak and was reluctant to take on speaking engagementsthatwereofferedtoher.“Thisirritatedmyhusbandconsiderably,”whothought that “when so few colored women had been fortunate enough to complete a college course…itwasashameforanyofthemtorefusetorenderservicewhichitwasintheir powertogive.” 54 BothFerdinandBarnett(husbandofWells)andRobertTerrellhadthekind ofliberal views onmarriage and gender roles thatenabled their wives to pursue public careerswithoutcausingtensionathome. AfterresigningherpositionasteacherintheMStreetSchoolbecausemarriedwomenwere notallowedtoteach,Marythrewherselffullyintobothclubworkandmotherhood.Despite theTerrells’attempttostartafamilyimmediately,thecouplelostthreepregnanciesinfive years, one of which was a son who died shortly after birth. Middle-class privilege

notwithstanding, Terrell could not escape the racist exigencies of late-nineteenth-century medicalcare.Tormentedbythelossofherinfantson,shewrote,“Icouldnothelpfeelingthat someofthemethodsusedincaringformybabyhadcauseditsuntimelyend,”includingtheuse ofamakeshiftincubator.Shesankintoadeepdepressionafterthelossofhersonthatonly intensifiedbecauseofthelynchingofherchildhoodfriendfromMemphis,TomMoss. 55 He andtwobusinesspartnerswerelynchedfordefendingthemselvesagainstagroupofwhitemen intownwhowerejealousofhisgrocerybusiness.ItwasthissamelynchingthatlaunchedIda B.Wells’santilynchingcrusade. Perhapsitwasbest,Terrellmorbidlyconcluded,thathersonhadnotsurvived.Invokinga beliefinimpressibility,shewonderedif“[t]hehorrorandresentment…coupledwiththe bitternessthatfilledmysoulmighthaveseriouslyaffectedtheunbornchild.Whocantellhow manydesperadoesandmurderershavebeenborntocoloredmotherswhohadbeenshocked anddistractedbeforethebirthoftheirbabiesbythenewsthatsomerelativeorfriendhadbeen burnedaliveorshottodeathbyamob?” 56 Heruseofintersectionalframingmakesvisibletheuniquelyvolatileandunsafeconditions underwhichcoloredwomengavebirthtochildren.Theideathatracialtraumascouldcreate heritabletraitsrelatedtosocialdeviancereflectedthedeeplyembodiedsensethroughwhich Blackwomenunderstood themselves and their experiences as racial beings. She did not elaborateonherbeliefs,butherbeliefsdoillustratethestakesofembodieddiscoursefor Blackwomen.Itwasimportantfortheirlivestoreflectthehighestformsofracialandsocial valuesbecausetheyliterallycarriedthosevalueswithintheirbodiesandbelievedtheycould physicallytransmitthemtotheirchildren.Moreover,Terrell’sdiscussionofBlackwomen’s particularembodimentofracialtraumaanditsattendantpainanddespairsuggeststhatshe thoughtandcareddeeplyaboutthesocialandmaterialimpactsofracialviolenceonBlack women’sbodies.

ToTriptheLightFantastic:ThePursuitofPleasure

Terrell’s invocationofembodied discourse inColoredWoman did not onlyindexBlack women’spainandtrauma.Shealsodeliberatelyinsertedabodyinsearchofpleasureintoher text.Heraccountofsneakingoutatnight,whileatOberlin,todanceinthegymnasiumprovides anexample.“Itwasagainsttherulesforgirlstodanceatanyofthecollegefunctions,and decidedly against the rules for young men and women to dance together anywhere.” Undeterred,themischievousyoungTerrellfound“agirlinLadiesHallwholovedtodanceas wellas[she]did,”andthetwowouldgo“tothegymnasiumeveryeveningaftersupperand tripthelightfantastictoourheart’scontent,pridingourselvesespeciallyonthefactthatwe knewallthelateststeps.” 57 Thepleasureshederivedfromdancingandknowingthelatest dancestepsmightseemlikethefrivolousandnormalpursuitsofcollege-agedwomen.But detailedaccountsaboutengaginginphysicallypleasurableactivities,especiallythoselike dancing,thatweresociallyforbiddenbecauseofsocialanxietiesaroundsexandwomen’s sexuality,arevirtuallynonexistentinanyautobiographieswrittenbyBlackwomenuntilthe publicationofTerrell’sbook. Dancingwas“frowneduponbyeverybodywhowantedtobeconsideredintellectualor

whosighedtobeclassifiedashighbrow.” 58 Herchoicetodance,toflouttheconventionsof respectabilityandtodosodeliberatelyandinfull knowledgeofmanyinthecommunity,

including“severaloftheteacherswhoboardedintheLadiesHallandsomeveryserious-

mindedyoungwomen,”indicatesthatBlackwomenhadarangeofstrategiesforresistingthe kindofrespectablegendersocializationthatwoulddenythemaccesstopleasure.Moreover,it indicatesthatTerrellhadreckonedonmultiplelevelswithherbodybothasasiteofpleasure andasasiteofpoliticalpotentiality.Shechosetoownallpartsofherself. Certainly,Terrell’sprivilegedclassbackgroundandtheveryplaceofhermicro-rebellion —OberlinCollege—undercutthebroadhistoricalimpactofaquotidianformofresistancelike dance. But her insistence onincludingsomethingso potentiallytrivial withinanalready expansivetomesuggeststhat,infact,Terrellpushed,bothduringheryoungwomanhoodandin herlatteryears,toinsistontheimportanceofcreatingaspaceofpleasureinthemidstofdoing racework.Wellintoherlateseventies,shediscussedherloveofdancing.Infact,itbecamea

kindofframingnarrativeforherautobiographybecauseshereturnstoitinthefinalchapterof

herbook,“CarryingOn”:

IcandanceaslongandaswellasIeverdid,althoughIgetveryfewchancestodoso.Thereseemstobea sortoftraditionthatafterawomanreachesacertainagesheshouldnotwanttotripthelightfantasticandthat evenifsheis anachronistic enoughtowishtodosuchanunseemlything,sheshouldnotbeallowedto indulge in this healthful and fascinating exercise. Ibelieve if a woman could dance or swim a half hour everyday,herspanoflifewouldbegreatlylengthened,herhealthmateriallyimproved,andthejoyofliving decidedlyincreased. 59

TerrellarguesherethatBlackwomenhavetherighttojoy.Moreover,shelocatesthatjoyinan activenotionofunapologeticembodimentandbodilymovement,whetherthroughdanceor swimming.SherejectstheideathatBlackwomen’spursuitofpleasureandjoyis“unseemly.” Herownershipofherbodyasasiteofcreativity,pleasure,andjoychallengesexistingBlack feminist attempts to locate genealogies of Blackfemale pleasure solelywithinthe blues tradition.Apparently,evenrespectableraceladieslikedtodance,too!Terrell’srebellioususe ofembodieddiscourseinherpoliticalautobiographycreatedacontextforher—andus—to thinkmoreexpansivelyabouthowBlackwomenusedtheirbodiesinmischievous,subversive, andpleasurablewaystoachievebothpersonalandpoliticalends.

ASenseofDutytoMyRace

By1898,TerrellgavebirthtoadaughterPhillis,namedforPhillisWheatley,andafewyears

later,sheadoptedherbrotherThomas’sdaughter,Mary.Inthemeanwhile,shethrewherself

fullyintoclubwork.In1892,shebecamefoundingmemberoftheColoredWomen’sLeague

(CWL)inD.C.TheCWLpledgedasitsfirstgoal“tocollectallfactsobtainabletoshowthe moral,intellectual,industrialandsocialgrowthandattainmentsofourpeople.” 60 Aclear intellectual impulse undergirded race women’s organizinginthe District. One ofthe first initiativesoftheLeaguewastheestablishmentofasmallnightschool.Terrellchairedthe EducationCommitteeandtaughtcoursesinEnglishLiteratureandGerman. 61 Terrellbelieved thatclubworkcouldtakethemodelpioneeredby“coloredwomenwhohavebeenbinding themselvestogetherintheinterestofthechurch”andapplyittomoresecularsocialgoals.

FromherperchasthefirstpresidentoftheNACW,Terrellandhercolleaguesbecamethe architects of an expansive racial uplift infrastructure that included fund-raising for and establishment of kindergartens, schools of domestic science, settlement houses, and sanatoriums.Andtheyalsobecamefierceadvocatesagainstlynching,convictleasing,andJim Crow. 62 Afterfiveyearsofextremelysuccessfulclubwork,Terrellhadcreatedapowerfulpublic platformforherselfasapublicintellectualandracialthoughtleader.Sheenjoyedthework

despitethephysicaltollittookonherbody.InaletterdatedAugust18,1900,writtenfrom

Danville,Illinois,TerrellwrotetoRobert:

Ienjoyverymuchdoingthis kindofworkbecauseIreallyfeelthatIam puttingthecoloredwomanina favorablelightatleasteverytimeIaddressanaudienceofwhitepeople,andeverylittlebithelps.…Butitisa greatsacrificeformetoleavemyhome,Itellyou.ItgrowsharderandhardereverytimeIleave—Itraveled aroundsomuchduringmychildhoodandyouththatjourneyshavenotthecharmformethattheypossessfor somepeople—Onlyasenseofdutytomyraceandthriftformyselfcouldinducemetosallyforthasalecturer —IhavealreadybeguntocounttheminuteswhichmustrunofftheclockbeforeIcangethome. 63

Terrellwasinitiallypaidfifteendollarspertalk,butshebecamesopopularthatsheeventually made twenty-five dollars per talk. While she initially did speaking tours in three-week increments,sheeventuallygaveatourthatwassevenweekslongandincludedtwenty-five cities,primarilyintheSouthernstatesofAlabama,Texas,Louisiana,andMississippi. 64 CommittedtotheideathatBlackpublicintellectualscouldtransformtheracistopinionsof

whitepeoplethroughsoundargumentation,Terrellhadveryparticularstandardsforspeech-

making.She“decidednevertocrackajokeatthegroup’sexpense[because]nobodycouldbe more fed up on the chicken and watermelon stealing jokes than I am.” 65 She was uncompromising,however,about“showingtheinjusticeandbrutalitytowhichcoloredpeople aresometimessubjected,”eventhoughherfriendshadwarnedherthatthis“wouldmilitate against[her]successasaspeaker.” 66 OnecommentatornotedthatinTerrell’slecture“The BrightSideofaDarkSubject,”“[s]hefirednopyrotechnics.Shetouchedlightlyonsouthern bonfireslitwithliving,humanflesh.Sheonlyincidentallyhintedattheflayingaliveofnegroes andotherholidaysportswherebythe‘superiorrace’whilesawaythefestivehour.Thewhole discoursewaslackinginalleffortsatblood-curdlingandblood-boilingeffects.” 67 Terrelltold difficult truths in her speeches, but she maintained a poised, elegant speaking style that impressedaudiences,evenasshechallengedthemtoaddresstheracialconcerns.Moreover, herrefusaltotelljokesattheexpenseofotherBlackpeopleindicatedadeeprespectforthe inherentdignityandpersonhoodofmembersofherrace.Herspeecheswereastudyinthe practiceofproper,dignifiedagitation.

Negressions:InSearchofFreeBlackWomanhood

Terrell’s personal reckoningwithwhatitmeantto be the descendantofslaves beganin childhood. Offeringa picture ofher internal reckoningwitha social discourse ofBlack inferiority, she helped us to understand how Black people came to understand their fundamentalhumandignity.Duringaschoolhistorylessonasayounggirl,sherealizedher

owndescentfromenslavedparents.Sheidentifiedthismomentasamomentofrupture,which ledtoacriticalredefinitionofself:“WhenIrecoveredmycomposure,Iresolvedthatsofaras thisdescendantofslaveswasconcerned,shewouldshowthosewhitegirlsandboyswhose forefathershadbeenfreethatshewastheirequalineveryrespect.Atthattime,Iwastheonly coloredgirlintheclass,andIfeltImustholdhighthebannerofmyrace.” 68 Sheusedher personaltiestothehistoryofenslavementtosignifyherracialidentityandtoinformher subjectivityasafreewoman.BothofTerrell’sarticulationshereaboutthewaysthatracial liberationbecomesimplicatedinherlifeasagenderedsubjectreflectanemergentcritical consciousnessabouttheintersectingnatureofraceandgenderassalientcategoriesofanalysis. Herinnerdialogueaboutherracialpositionalityanditsstigmaispubliclyexpressedthrough theoutwardclaimtobeing“free”andthroughanembraceofasocialdispositionasa“free woman,”whosesocialinteractionsarecharacterizedbyconfidenceorholdingone’sheadhigh —beinginaword:dignified.MaeHendersonarguesthatreadingthetextaccordingtothese simultaneous,competingdiscoursesallowsustoaddressnotonlythe“subjecten-genderedin theexperienceofrace”butalso“asubject‘racialized’intheexperienceofgender.” 69 Becomingafreewoman,abletomoveunencumberedinthepublicsphere,wascriticalto doingtheworkoftherace;similarly,freeingherselffromthestigmaofracistideologyhad directramificationsforTerrell’sexperienceofwomanhood.Bypresentinganotionoffreedom embodiedintheconfidentperformanceofwomanhood,Terrellsubvertstheverytermsthat attempttocircumscribeherexperience;“race”isnotallowedtooperatewithitscharacteristic opacityvis-à-visotherformsofdifference,noriswomanhoodanidentityleftrestrictedto whitewomen.Andthevisualimageryofherfreedomisthatofawomanwithherheadheld high,whichpointsustoward,ratherthanawayfrom,Terrell’sexperienceasanembodied, Blackfemalesubject. Terrellnotonlyofferedaglimpseintohernarrativeofpersonalreckoningwithdestructive effectsofracism.Shealsoofferedanaccountofherpublicbattlewithwhitewomentooccupy the space of “free womanhood.” In 1904, she was invited to deliver anaddress at the InternationalCongressofWomeninBerlin.Becauseofherverylightskin,manyoftheGerman conferenceattendeesmistookherforawhitewoman.WhentwoGermanwomendiscovered thatshespokeGermanbutwasAmerican,theybegantoaskTerrellabout“‘dieNegerin’(the Negress) fromthe United States whomthey were expecting.” 70 Initially, Terrell did not understandthattheythoughtshewaswhite,butshediscovered“thattheyhadnoideatheywere talkingtothisveryunusuallyanthropologicalspecimenwhomtheywereseeking.” 71 Theever- mischievousTerrellhadalaughattheirexpenseandkeptupthecomedyoferrorsforseveral daysaspeopleinquiredofherrepeatedlyabout“dieNegerin.”Terrell’schoicenottoidentify herselfasBlackeffectively,ifnotintentionally,renderedherawhitewoman. BecauseTerrellwasfluentinbothGermanandFrench(nottomentionLatinandGreek), shedecidedtogiveheraddressinGerman.Evenwhenshefinallystoodtogiveherspeech,no onerealizedshewasBlack.Thus,shehadtointentionallymarkherselfasnonwhitewitha “discoursethatwouldimpressthatfactupon[her]audience.” 72 Asshesaid,“Iwantedtobe surethattheyknewIwasofAfricandescent.”Thus,shebeganheraddress,“Ifithadnotbeen

fortheWaroftheRebellionwhichresultedinvictoryfortheUnionArmyin1865,insteadof

addressingyouasafreewomantonight,inallhumanpossibilityIshouldbeonsomeplantation inoneofthesouthernstatesofmycountrymanacledbodyandsoulinthefettersofaslave.” 73 Thisactofpublicself-namingasaBlackwomanconstitutedanactofembodieddiscoursein whichTerrellliterallysoughttoreframeheraudience’smisunderstandingofherbodythrougha pointedinvocationofracialdiscourse.Terrellfurtherinformedheraudiencethatshewasthe “onlywomanspeakingfromtheplatformwhoseparentswereactuallyheldaschattels,”and thus,“asyoufastenyoureyesuponme,therefore,youaretrulybeholdingararebird.”Don’t misstheshadethatTerrellthrewatthisgroupofwhitewomenwhohadbeenreferringtoher as“theNegress”fordaysonend. 74 Shewasa“rarebird,”amarvel,notacommonNegress, sheletthemknow.Terrell’s heteroglossia,or literal abilitytospeakintongues,notonly allowedhertocommunicateacrosslinesofdifferencebutalsotorefracttheaudience’sgaze. 75 SherecognizedthatshecouldnotfullyinvertthegazeonceheraudienceknewshewasaBlack subject,soshemadeherbodyintoaracialspectacleonherownterms,characterizingherself asrareandvaluableratherthancommon.

FIGURE4.MaryChurchTerrell.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,ManuscriptsDivision, HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

FIGURE4.MaryChurchTerrell.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,ManuscriptsDivision,

HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

Interestingly enough though, those terms upon which her body became legible to her audiencewereexplicitlygendered.Concludingthefirstpartofherspeech,Terrelltoldthe audience that, giventhese historical contingencies, she was “rejoicing… notonlyinthe emancipationofmyrace,butinthealmostuniversalelevationofmysex.” 76 Hergendered invocationofBlackracialhistoryandherracialexperienceofwomanhoodatthisinternational conference of predominantlyEuropeanwomenpoint againto the importance of Terrell’s

autobiography as a site of intersectional theorizing. Black women chose to make their embodiedexperiencesofbothBlacknessandwomanhoodvisiblethroughstrategicinvocations ofembodieddiscourserenderedinclearintersectionalterms.Repeatedrecoursetotheoriesof dissemblanceandrespectabilitywouldcauseamisrecognitionofthewaysthatTerrell’sbody isverymuchonpublicdisplayandunderintensescrutinyinaroomfullofwhitewomen shockedtolearnthatsheisawomanofcolor.Clearly,Blackwomencouldnotfullyand effectivelymutethecorporealintheirpublicwork.Thus,theydrewoncommonassumptions aboutwhotheymustbeandrefiguredthoseassumptionsinwaysthatallowedtheirmessageto beheardmoreeffectively. InTerrell’scase,sheknewthatheraudiencedidnotbelieveBlackwomenwerecapableof beingdignified,elegant,orarticulate.TheycertainlywouldnotexpectaBlackwomanto speakmultiplelanguages.Thus,bydisruptingtheirattemptstoreadherasawhitewoman,by forcingthemtoseeherasaBlackwomanaftertheyhadcometorespectherintelligenceand education,shewasable,throughtheuseofembodieddiscourse,toreframethewaysthey thoughtaboutBlackwomanhood.Butitonlyworkedbecauseherbodywasaspectacle.The logicofdissemblancetheoryandtherespectabilityparadigmsuggestthatBlackwomenthought theycouldachieverespectonlybymutingthebody.Terrelldemonstratesthattheysometimes achievedrespectbydrawingattentiontothebodyontheirownterms. InthespiritofTerrell’swryandsubversivehumorinthefaceofhavingenduredherwhite womencolleaguesreferringtoherasa“negress”fordaysonend,I’dliketothinkthatherbig reveal atthe podiumwas a negression, anactofsocial transgressiondesigned to bring visibilitytoBlackwomenontheirownterms,andtoresituate,evenifbriefly,thepowerofthe gaze—oflooking—inthe eyes and atthe hands and bodyofthe Blackwoman. Terrell’s subversiveperformanceofracewomanhoodconstitutes,then,abroader“negressivepolitics” thatindexesanunapologeticoccupyingofspace,aclaimingofvisibility,arepositioningofthe gaze,andadeterminationofhowone’sbodygetstobemadespectacle.Totheextentthat negressivepoliticsarerootedintheparticularexperiencesofhowBlackwomennavigateand resistinthepublicsphere,thesepoliticscalltomindactsofembodiedtransgressionagainsta discourseofracialregression.ThismeansthatBlackwomentransgressthelimitsofexisting

socialdiscourseandresistregressiveattemptstotethertheirbodiestoa“negativesocio-

epistemicspace.” 77 Anegressivepoliticisanembraceoftransgressionasalegitimatestrategy formakingclearone’spoliticsandasimultaneousrefusalofregression.Itistransgressive bodypoliticsrenderedonBlackwomen’sterms.

ThePoliticsofPassing

Terrell’schoiceinBerlintoleaveheridentityunstatedforseveraldaysgaveherthefreedom andprivilegetopassforwhite.Sheoftenpassedontrainsasshetraveledtogiveracelectures orinordertosecuresafehotelaccommodations.Onmultipleoccasionsasayoungwoman,she was sexually harassed, and her ability to pass often provided her safety. It would be inappropriatethentoreadherracialpassingasaformofself-hatred,orasanattempttosecure whiteprivilege,eventhoughherverylightskincertainlyaffordedherprivilegesunavailableto otherBlackwomendoingsimilarwork.Shewroteofherdeepsenseofsexualvulnerability

duringhermanytravels:“Therearefewexperiencesmoreembarrassingandpainfulthanthose throughwhichacoloredwomanpasseswhiletravelingintheSouth.”Whilecominghomefrom college,shewasforcedtorideintheJimCrowcar,arelativelynewexperienceforBlack peopleinMemphisatthetime.Asthenightworeon,Terrellgrewincreasinglyfearful,having “heardabouttheawfultragedieswhichhadovertakencoloredgirlswhohadbeenobligedto travelalongonthesecarsatnight.”Whensheaskedtheconductortolethermoveintoanother car whichhadmorepeople,shewrote,“[H]eassuredmewithasignificantlookthathe himselfwouldkeepmecompanyandremainintherewithme.” 78 Shenarrowlyescapedharm by“callingtheconductor’sbluff”andtellinghimshewouldleavethetrain.Afraidthathe mightlosehisjobsinceJimCrowhadnotyetbeenlegalized,theconductorrelented. Onanothertrip,TerrellwasforcedtogetoffatrainandsecurearrangementsinTexas. Knowingnoone,sheaskedtheconductor for help.Again,shewas mistakenfor awhite woman,andheurgedhertogotothehotel.Terrellchosetopassandwasabletodosowithout incident.Butsherememberedfeelinggreat“apprehensionandfear”atbeingcaught.Terrell’s unintentionalpassingonthetrainhadactedasaformofprotectionforher,entitlinghertothe besttreatment.Infuturetravels,sheoftenmadethechoicetopass—notonshorttrips,but certainlyonlongjourneys.Sheremarks,“Ifeltitwasmydutytomyfamily,tomyself,andto theaudienceIhadbeeninvitedtoaddresstokeepasfitaspossiblebytakingtheproperrest, sothatIcouldgivethepeopletheverybestIhadtooffer.” 79 Asironicasherchoicewastopasswhiletravelingtodoracework,Terrellthoughtithada worthyjustification:

ItaughtmydaughterstheyweredoingtheirHeavenlyFatheraservicewhentheypreventedanybodyfrom treatingHischildrenwithinjustice,scorn,orcontemptsolelyonaccountofcolororrace.Itaughtthemalso they were justified in using any scheme, not actually criminal or illegal, to secure for themselves what representativesofotherracialgroupsenjoyed,butofwhichtheywouldbedeprivedonaccountoftheirAfrican descent.Iimpresseduponthemthattheywouldperpetrateagreatinjusticeuponthemselvesiftheyfailedto takeadvantageofanygoodthingwhichtheyhadtherighttoenjoy,simplybecausecertainpeoplehadthe powertodeprivethemofitbymakingarbitraryandunjustlaws. 80

Passingand usinglight-skinned privilege to help others get access to segregated spaces constitutedaformofproper,dignifiedagitationagainst“arbitraryandunjustlaws.”Itis,thus, withhumorthatsherecountedseveralinstancesofherdaughterpassingatalocaltheaterwhile usingthe privilege together other,oftendarker-skinnedfriends admittedalongwithher. Terrellclearlydistinguishespassingasaformofprotestfrompassingdonebythosewho “crossthecolorline,”nevertoreturn.Sheviewedhermomentsofpassingnotasdeliberate attemptstomisrepresentherself,butratherasopportunitiestocapitalizeupontheprejudicesof otherswhowere“obsessedwithraceprejudice.” 81

Itwas,therefore,withsupremeironyanddisappointmentthatTerrellrealizedin1951that

Blackaccesstopublicspacehadnotimprovedmuchsinceherdaughterswerechildren.Ina

1951speech,shetoldamassaudience:“WhenIcameheresixtyyearsagoIdidnotdreamthat

sixtyyearsfromthatdatecoloredpeoplewouldstillbesubjectedtopracticallythesame discriminationandsegregationastheywereatthattime.Butcoloredpeoplearestillexcluded fromtheMoviesonFStreetandarestillrefusedserviceinmanyhotelsandeatingplaces,just astheyweresixtyyearsago.Infact,conditionsareworsetoday.” 82 Withthebenefitoflong

historicalcontextatherback,Terrelltackedhardtotheleft,urgingheraudiencetotakethe exactoppositeoftheapproachshetookinColoredWoman:“LetuscontinuetowageaHoly Waragainstdiscriminationandsegregationandalltheothermanifoldevilsandillswhichrace prejudiceforcesustoendure.” 83

ToMakeThisCountryaDemocracy

In1950,MaryChurchTerrellandsomeofherfriendsintheCoordinatingCommitteebegana

campaignofsittinginatThompson’sCafeteria. 84 Thiswasthesecondattempttodesegregate Thompson’s.AgroupofHowardLawstudents,undertheguidanceoflawlibrarianA.Mercer Daniel, had unearthed the text of what were called the Lost Laws in 1944. These ReconstructioneralawshaddesegregatedallpublicplacesintheDistrict;thoughtheyhad beenforgottenandremainedunenforced,theyhadneverbeenrepealed.Confidentthatthese lawswerestillinforce,agroupofundergraduatestudentsfromtheHowardcampuschapterof theNAACPbegantheirownsit-inandpicketcampaigns.Inthatfirsteffort,PauliMurray,a studentatHowardLawSchool,servedasthe“student‘legaladviser’”forthedesegregation efforts. 85 Though the student groups were marginally successful, their larger effort was quashed by the conservative administration of Howard University president Mordecai Johnson,whoworriedthatthestudents’radicalactionswouldputHoward’sfederalfundingin jeopardy. 86 Afew years later, Terrell tookup this local lost cause, withaninterracial group of comradeswhojoinedherinregularsit-insatThompson’s. 87 WhenTerrell’sentouragewas refusedservice,sheandherpartyfiledsuitonbehalfoftheCoordinatingCommittee,with

jointsupportfromtheCity’sDistrictCommissioners.InJulyof1950,theD.C.Municipal

CourtheldinfavorofThompson’sRestaurant,adecisionthatTerrell’sgroupimmediately

appealed.InJuneof1951,thegroupscoreditsfirstlegalvictorywhentheMunicipalCourtof

AppealsinD.C.declaredthatinfactthe“LostLaw”of1873wasvalidandthatrestaurant

ownersinD.C.weresubjecttoafineandlossoflicenseforracialdiscrimination.Incomplete defianceoftheMunicipalCourt’sruling,alocalofficialpledgednottoenforcetheruling.His defianceputabitofadamperonthemasscelebratorymeetingthatboycottorganizershad

pulledtogetherforJune15.Afternearlysixdecadesofstrategizingthemosteffectivewaysto

“makedemocracy”forBlackpeopleintheU.S.,Terrellsensedadeepurgencyinherbattleto desegregatetheDistrict.OndiscoveringthatlocalofficialswouldnotenforcetheAppeals Court’srulingtodesegregate,shetoldheraudience,“Iamnolonger‘SweetSixteen,’andI wouldliketolivelongenoughtoseethislawenforced.” 88 Moreover,shetoldthem,“itpains megreatlytothinkthattheCapitalofmyowncountry,theCapitaloftheUnitedStatesof America—istheonlyCapitalinthewholewideworldinwhichrestaurantsrefusetoserve coloredpeoplesolelyonaccountoftheirrace.” 89 Everthepoisedandeloquentspeaker,Terrellbeganbythankingheraudiencefortheir commitment“totrytoimprovetheconditionsunderwhichweliveintheCapitaloftheUnited StatesofAmerica,calledtheGreatestDemocracyonEarth.”“Wearetrying,”shereminded them,“todevisewaysandmeansofmakingthiscountryaDemocracyinfactaswellasin

namebyinjectingalittlebitofDemocracyhereinWashington,D.C.”Therecentrulingwasa “indeedagreatvictoryforagrouptocelebratewhichhasbeenhumiliated,handicapped,and harassed[sic]bysegregationanddiscriminationintheCapitaloftheUnitedStatesfornearly 100years!” 90 Shethenturnedherattentiontothedefianceoflocalofficials.“Letusrejoice withanexceedinggreatjoyinspiteofthedetermined,diabolicaleffortswhichhavebeen madetosnatchfromusthefruitsofthatblessedvictorywhichthelawgivesustherightto enjoy.” 91 InvokingbothChristianreligious rhetoric andthe rhetoric ofliberal democracy, Terrellheldforththeirvictoryasbothdivineandlegalright.DeliveredinalocalD.C.church, herliberaluseofbiblicalphraseshadtheeffectoflettingheraudienceknowthatGodwasin factonthesideoftheprotesters,notonthesideofthe“diabolical”localofficials.Evenso, sheremindedheraudienceaboutthekindofagitationthatwouldbemosteffective:“Weare notgoingtotearpassiontotattersheretonight.Wearenotgoingtofussandfume.Butina dignified, disgusted way we are going to say we are shocked beyond expression that CorporationCounsel Westhasusedhispower asalaw-enforcementofficer toencourage proprietorsofhotels,restaurants,andothereatingplacesdeliberately,openlytoviolatethe lawbytellingthemhewillnotprosecutethemiftheydo.” 92 Terrellinsistedondignified,if disgusted,methodsofregisteringcollectiveracialprotest.Despiteherfieryrhetoric,hercalls fordignifiedprotestcouldbereadassubdued.However,shehadhonedandarticulatedher theoryofagitationoverthecourseofnearlyfortyyears.Whereshehadgenerallyalways

insistedonacertainlevelofproprietywithheragitation,by1951shehadmovedfromproper

anddignified,todignified,disgusted,anddefiant. Moreover,herspeech,givenjustasMcCarthyismandtheRedScareweresettoreacha feveredpitch,connectedAfricanAmericanstrugglesintheU.S.tothestrugglesof“four-fifths oftheworld’spopulation[who]arecoloredpeople.” 93 “Russia,”shetoldtheaudience,“is assiduouslycultivatingthe friendship ofcolored people all over the world.” Fanningthe flamesofanticommunist,anti-Russiansentimentandattemptingtousethatsentimentforher argument,sheinsinuatedthatcommunismwouldbecomeanincreasinglyattractiveoptionto “thesecoloredpeople,”who“aredominatedbythegreatwhitecountriesthroughthemedium ofColonialismwhichthecoloredpeopleoftheworldhateandaredeterminedtothrowoffjust asfastastheycan.”“And,”shewarnedwithevenmoreforeboding,“Ibelievetheywill succeed.” 94 Thesecolonizedpeoples,includingBlackpeopleintheU.S.,whomsheimplicitly connectedtothosestruggles,werepayingcloseattentiontotheracialpoliticsoftheU.S.The blatantandunrepentantracialdiscriminationatthehandsofa“LawEnforcementOfficerofthe CapitaloftheUnitedStates”hadgreatsymbolicimportaroundtheworld.“Itwashardto understand,” Terrell argued, “how anybody who loves his country can deliberately do somethingwhichwillcausefour-fifthsoftheworld’spopulationtohateit.” 95 Terrelloffereda sophisticatedanalysisofthewaysthatradicalleftsocialmovementswouldcometoappealto people of color inglobal anticolonial struggles over the next decade. She believed that “makingdemocracy”moreinclusivewouldhalttheforwardmarchofcommunism.Shethus attemptedtoco-opttherhetoricoftheColdWartoadvocateforracialfreedomintheU.S. Inlightoftheseconsistentfailuresregardingracism,sheremindedtheaudiencethatitwas their“dutytotrytosaveourcountryfromridiculeandfromthedisgraceofhavingtheworld

calltheUnitedStatesofAmericaanHypocrisyinsteadofaDemocracy.” 96 Returningthento religious rhetoric, she urged them to “wage a Holy War against discrimination and segregation.”Resolute,shedeclared,invokingaBibleversefromtheBookofRomans,“Letus deciderighthereandnow,decidetonighttoallow neither deathnor life,nor angels nor principalitiesnorpowersnorthingspresentnorthingstocomenorheightnordepthnorany other creature to separate nor stop us inour efforts to secure all the rights, privileges, immunitiesandopportunitiestowhichtheConstitutionoftheUnitedStatesentitlesusand whichJusticedemandsweshouldbeallowedtoenjoy.” 97 Shehadtaughtherdaughters“that theywouldperpetrateagreatinjusticeuponthemselvesiftheyfailedtotakeadvantageofany goodthingwhichtheyhadtherighttoenjoy,”whenshesupportedtheirchoicetopassatthe movietheater.Severaldecadeslatersheturnedherattentionoutward,seekingtochangethe conditionsthatwoulddenythemaccessinthefirstplace.Ratherthanspeakingof“injustices one could perpetrate on oneself” she acknowledged that these were rights that “Justice demandsweshouldbeallowedtoenjoy.” MaryChurchTerrelldidlivetoseethedesegregationofthenation’scapital.TheSupreme

CourtruledinherfavoragainstThompson’sRestaurantin1953.Terrellalsolivedtoseethe

passageoftheBrownv.Boarddecision,justtwomonthsbeforeshedied.EleanorHolmes

(Norton),astudentactivistinthe1960s,whosoughttounderstandthecontextofthatdecade’s

activism,arguedthatoutofthe“earlyforties”“camethesearchforanew,dignified,andmore directwaytoprotest.” 98 Holmes’scommentsmakeclearthatthe“dignifiedagitation”inwhich Terrell and others engaged participated inlayingthe groundworkfor the next decade of nonviolentdirectaction.Terrell’sSupremeCourtvictory,theculminationofmorethansixty yearsofdignifiedagitation,alsocreatedthecontextfortheBrowndecision.Hershiftingideas aboutwhatconstitutedproperagitationparalleledabroaderracialshiftfromupliftpoliticsto directactionandinstitutionalagitation.Moreover,Terrell,alongwiththeyoungcolleaguesshe mentored,challengedthecharismaticmaleleadershipmodelthatcontinuestoframenotonly BlackpoliticsbutalsoBlackscholarship.Fromherearliestleadershipdaysasaprotégéof Frederick Douglass, to her latter days as a civil rights activist, Terrell created a new genealogicalbranchforBlackpoliticsandBlackleadership,onethatproceedsthrougharange ofBlackwomendirectlyintotheCivilRightsstruggle.Herlifedemonstratesveryconcretely thewaysthatnotionsofracialrespectabilitycametoinformnotonlyupliftpoliticsinthe nineteenthcenturybutalsocivilrightspoliticsinthetwentieth.Andshedidallthatwhilealso offeringaclearlyliberalBlackfeministvisionrootedinintersectionalpolitics,acommitment todemocracy,andabeliefininstitutionaltransformationthatwould“makedemocracy”real forBlackwomen. OneoftheBlackwomeninspiredconcretelybyTerrell’slonghistoryofCivilRightswas PauliMurray.Inherownautobiography,MurrayrememberedTerrellas“amilitantcivilrights activistandlongtimefeministwhohadfoughtforwomansuffrage,”andas“theEssenceof Victorianrespectability.” 99 ItwasTerrellwhohad“completedthestruggle”begunbythose

precociousHowardstudentsinthe1940s.Indoingso,sheconcretelyconnectedpastbattles

forracialfreedomtocontemporaryones,makingspaceforthedignifiedformsofprotestthat

wouldbeundertakenbyanewgenerationoffeministsfightingforcivilrightsandwomen’s

rights.Inthenextchapter,IturnspecificallytoPauliMurray’sstory;forherpathcreatesa

uniquethreadofBlackfemaleleadershipdirectlyfromthismomentofthe1950sintothe

tumultuous1970s.

CHAPTER3

QueeringJaneCrow

PauliMurray’sQuestforanUnhyphenatedIdentity

“TheInvertedSexInstinctandOtherQuestions”

WhileapatientattheLongIslandRestHome,onDecember14,1937,PauliMurraystruggled

tounderstandwhatmightbethecauseofherrecurringboutsofseverementaldistress.She wonderedifherself-described“psychosis”wasaresultofwantingtohaveherownwayina distressingmentalandemotionalbattleaboutthenatureofhersexualandgenderidentity. 1 Frustratedbythelackofdefinitiveanswersfromherdoctorsaboutwhyshe,abiological female,experiencedsexualattractiontowomenandpreferredamasculinegenderidentity,

Murray responded in her relentlessly inquisitive fashion, peppering her caretakers with questions,requests,anddemands.Twodaysintoherstay,shewasfinallyready,aftersome hesitancy, to name the cause ofher “mental and emotional conflict.” Inher questionnaire

writtenonDecember16,Murraywroteoutaseriesofquestions.Shewonderedaboutthekind

ofwomensheseemedtolike—hyperfeminineandmaternal.Sheaskedaboutherowncounter-

narrativeofhergenderidentity—herbeliefthatshewasmale—eventhoughitrancounterto existingmedical understandings ofsexualityand gender. 2 She inquired bothearnestlyand humorouslyaboutherpreferenceformasculineclothingandherdesiretobeamanamongmen. Perhaps,sheconcluded,her“problem”washormonal. 3 Acivilrightsactivist,feminist,attorney,Episcopalpriest,poet,andwriter,Murray’swork onbehalfofantiracistandfeministstrugglesplacesherwithinthemostactivetraditionsof Blackwomen’sleadership.Atthesametime,herstruggleswithqueerandnonnormativesex and gender identities no easyidentificationwitheither Blackness or womanhood. Inthis chapter,Ijuxtaposeherearlyandferventbeliefthatshewasphysiologicallyanintersexperson withherlaterrefusaltoclassifyherselfintermsofabinaryBlack-Whiteracialclassification system,inordertosuggestthatherlaterracialtheorizingreflectedherdesiretoexpandthe

universe ofracial leadership possibilities for queer-identified Blackwomen. As a young

womanwhowas,inmanyways,mentoredbyMaryChurchTerrellandotherearly-twentieth-

centuryracial leaders, Murray’s life and writingprovides anopportunityto consider the intellectualandpoliticallegacyoftheNACWSchoolofThoughtforsucceedinggenerationsof Blackwomenraceleaders.Inparticular,becausemuchoftheworkoftheNACWfocusedon givingformandshapetosocialconceptionsofBlackwomanhood,Murray’sownstrugglesto bothinhabit the bounds of middle-class racial respectabilityand to embrace her gender nonconformitytoacceptedidealsofBlackfemininity,challengethetermsuponwhichthe conceptionoftheracewomanproceedsintothelatterhalfofthecentury.Moreprecisely,her failure,indeedherrefusal,toinhabitthecategoryofrespectableracialwomanhoodinsocially accepted terms exposed her to a mode of institutionalized gender disciplining and discriminationthatshecametoname“JaneCrow.” Within the context of the intellectual geography and genealogy of the book, I turn to

Murray’stimeintheearly1940sasastudentatHowardUniversityLawSchool.Iconsider

HowardLawandthestultifyinggenderpoliticsthatMurrayencounteredthereasasignificant siteinherintellectualformationasaraceleaderandfeminist.ItwasatHoward,asshe encounteredthesexismoftheall-maleHowardLawfacultyandstudentbody,thatshecreated the termJane Crow. I want to suggest that inadditionto beinganearlyformulationof intersectionaltheory,JaneCrowalsosoughttonameapowerfulsystemofgenderdisciplining withinBlackintellectualcommunities.Thissystem,proppedupbydeepinvestmentsinthe heteronormsofrespectabilitypolitics,demandedpropersexualandgenderperformancesfrom Blackwomeniftheydesiredtoberaceleaders,andattemptedtosilence,humiliate,and isolate themwhentheychose notto comply. Commensurate withthe cultural and gender discipliningthatsheexperiencedatHoward,itwasthere,Iargue,thatPauliMurraybecamea racewoman. ArmedbytheendofhertenureatHowardwithbothmedicalconfirmationofherbiological femalenessandintricateknowledgeoframpantsexismamongracemen,Murrayturnedher attentionto seekinglegal remedies for segregationand sexism. Her ferventadvocacyfor women’s equalitywithinthe law redirected some ofMurray’s internal conflicts over her genderidentitytoarighteouscause—thecauseofwomen.However,Murraywasstillsexually attractedtowomen,andshefoundlittlesupportforopenlypursuinghersexualdesireswithin theconfinesofherworkasaraceleader.Thus,Iarguethatattheheightofherlegalcareer, unabletoresolveheridentityconflictsfullythroughscience,sheusedherlegaltrainingand broadhistoricalknowledgetocraftafluidracialidentificationschemethatsupportedher liberalvisionofaraciallyintegratedsocietyandresolvedthroughsublimationhercontinued conflictsoverwhatitmeanttobeaqueerBlackfemaleraceleader.MyexaminationofPauli

Murray’sarchivalmaterials,coupledwithaclosereadingofher1956autobiography,Proud

Shoes: The Story of an American Family, and her posthumously published second autobiography,SonginaWearyThroat,revealanemergingframeworkofresistancetoboth institutionalandculturaldefinitionsofrace,gender,andsexuality. 4 Likemanyofherrace womenforebears,sheenactedthisresistancebyusinghertwoautobiographiesassitesfor racialtheorization,whilealsoemployingembodieddiscourseasatextualstrategythatallowed her,bothpubliclyandprivately,tocontestreceiveddiscourseswithinscience,history,andthe lawaboutthenatureofBlackfemaleidentityandBlackfemalesexuality. HistorianDoreenDrury’sgroundbreakingdissertationonPauliMurray,andasubsequent articlethatshepublishedbasedonthatwork,deeplyinformmythinkinghereaboutthe“ways that Murray’s approach to gender and sexuality were shaped by powerful discourses of respectabilityintheBlackcommunity.” 5 LikeDrury,I,too,arguethatMurray’spolitics“as expressedinher 1956familyhistoryProudShoescannotbeseparatedfromthewayshe viewedhergenderandsexuality.”WhilethegoalofDrury’sworkonMurrayistohaveus “rethinkcertainunderstandingsofAfricanAmericanhistory,thehistoryofsexuality,thehistory ofleftistpoliticalthoughtandactivism,andU.S.women’shistory,moregenerally,”Imake somespecificandfocusedinterventionsinthischapter. 6 First,IsituateMurray’scontributions to the intellectual historyofBlackfeministthought. Iuse bothher archives and her two autobiographies inthis chapter to map boththe personal and political dimensions ofher feminism,withanultimateviewofputtingherforthasafeministlegaltheoristandaBlack

feministtheoristmorebroadly.LikesomanyoftheotherBlackwomenunderexaminationin thisbook,manyclaimPauliMurrayasanimportantfeministfigure,butfarfewerpeople actuallyexplicate,asIseektodohere,thecontentoftheideasthatshecontributedtothe intellectualprojectofBlackfeminism.Second,ImovebeyondDrury’sexaminationofhow respectabilityshaped Murray’s engagement of gender, to posit that respectabilitypolitics actuallyproduced AfricanAmericanracial conceptions ofgender inthe several decades followingtheendofReconstruction.BecauseofMurray’scomplicatedrelationshiptoexisting conceptionsofgender,withinbothanAmericancontextandanAfricanAmericanone,her storyaptlydemonstratesthewaysthatrespectabilityoperatedbothasasystemofgender discipliningandasasystemofgenderproductionwithinBlackcommunitiesstillworkingout theirnotionsofmanhoodandwomanhood.Finally,whereDruryseekstoshowhowtheracial politicsofProudShoesisconnectedtoMurray’sgenderandsexualpolitics,myworkplaces Murray’stheorizationofraceinProudShoeswithinabroaderintellectualgenealogyofthe ways thatBlackfeministthinkers have writtenandconceptualizednotions ofrace andof blacknesswithinthehistoryofBlackwomen’sintellectualthought.

Throughoutthe1930sand1940s,Murray,theninhertwentiesandthirties,wasrepeatedly

hospitalizedwithboutsofdepression.Shewonderedaboutherlifelongstruggleswithanxiety, whichforherseemedconnectedtoaseriesofromancesandromanticattractionstoyoung women. 7 ThedeceptivelysimpleanswerwouldhavebeenforMurraytoacceptheridentityas alesbian.However,inherquestionnairesheindicatedthatotherhomosexualsirritatedher.She acknowledgedaclearattractiontostraight,femininewomen,butsimplycouldnotacceptthat “homosexuality”wastheproperlabel forherfeelings.Sheinsistedandresolvedthather ultimate romantic goal was a heterosexual, monogamous partnership. 8 Today, we would understandMurray’srejectionoftheconflationofhersexualattractionandhergenderidentity intermsoftransgenderidentity.BecauseMurrayidentifiedasamale,whowasattractedto women,sheunderstoodherselftobeheterosexual,nothomosexual.Butshewasbornina femalebody,duringatimewheretherewasnotyetlanguagetoarticulatethedistinctions betweensexualityand gender,andto name the possibilityofbeingtransgender. Murray’s struggle was made more difficult byher acceptance of deeplyentrenched and societally imposed heteronormative assumptions that made it nearlyimpossible for her to consider expressionsofsexualityandgenderthatwewouldtodaycallqueerorgendernonconforming.

HospitalizedagainonMarch8,1940,shenotedthatshehadbeenhavingsevereboutsof

emotionalcrisissincetheageofnineteen.Theyusuallyemerged,shewrote,aftershehad falleninlove witha womanwithout havinganyacceptable social outlet to express her romanticattractionstowomen.Shelamentedthatshecouldnotpubliclyfallinlove,ordate,or share expressions ofaffectionwithmembers ofthe same sex. 9 Because the explanations doctors offered were unsatisfactory, Murray proposed—in her characteristic take-charge fashionandoftentothegreataggravationofherdoctors—herownsetoftheoriesregardingher sexuality.Shebelievedthatshewouldhavetoturntoexperimentaltreatmentsratherthanto psychiatryforanswerstoherquestions.Buteventhen,shequestionedherowninvestmentina

scientificsolution,becausesheconsideredherselfadeeplyreligiousperson. 10 Afterconcludingthatsciencewasstill,indeed,herbestbet,sheaskeddoctorswhetheror notshemighthaveintersexcharacteristics,suchasundescendedtesticles. 11 Murraywasso convincedofthepossibilitythatshewasanintersexpersonthatforthenextthreeyearsshe askeddoctorstoadministerhormonetreatments,possiblyinjectionsoftestosterone,thatwould allowhertobecomeanormallyfunctioningmale.Despiteherdoctors’attemptstosteerher awayfrommalehormonetreatments,sheinsistedthatshewouldliketoexperimentwitha hormoneregimenthatcouldaffirmhermasculinegenderidentity. 12 Murray fundamentally rejected the idea that a “scientific” diagnosis was intrinsically accurateand,thoughshecouldnotpreciselyarticulatewhy,seemedtointuitivelyunderstand someformofdisconnectbetweenhowhersexualitywasbeingdescribed(i.e.,diagnosed)and whatitactuallywas.AsMichelFoucaulthassocarefullydocumented,homosexualitywasa discursiveinvention,“acategory…constitutedtocodifynormalandabnormalsexualities fromthemomentitwascharacterized”in1870. 13 Murraytriedatdifferentturnstoresisteach ofthesediscourses:first,rejectingscienceinfavorofabeliefinherself;nextembracing scienceratherthanpsychiatry,whichwouldhavelabeledherasdeviant;andfinally,turningto religiousexplanationscoupledwithexperimentalscience.ThoughMurrayevincedatensionat thelabelsthatreligion,science,andpsychoanalysisallsoughttoimposeuponher,shewas alsomiredinthediscursiveinawaythatabsolutelyexasperatedher. Thequestionnairesinherarchive,coupledwiththecopiousamountsofresearchshedid aboutavailablescientifictreatments,demonstratebothlegiblyandtangiblythatracewomen’s use of embodied discourse as a textual strategy was deeply informed by struggle and contestation.Althoughpriorracewomenusedembodieddiscoursetocontestassertionsof Blackinferiority,thejustificationsfor lynching,andtheattempttomalignBlackwomen’s morals,Murrayliterallystruggledtomakehermasculinegenderidentityandherfemalesexual physiologyadheretoacceptedscientificcategories.AsFoucaulthasmadeclear,scientific categoriesofsexualityarediscursiveconstructionsthatshapehowweliveandexperience theseidentities.Whereasnineteenth-centuryracewomenusedtheirautobiographies,speeches, andotherwritingstochallengederogatorysocialdiscoursesaboutBlackwomanhood,Murray —inherprivatecorrespondencetodoctors,campaignforhormonetherapy,andlaterattempts tobeadmittedtotheall-maleHarvardLawSchool,alongwithhertwoautobiographies—used embodieddiscourseand,morespecifically,theschismsaroundhowsheexperiencedherown embodiment,asatextualandsocialpraxisthatallowedherbothtodemonstrateherfitnessfor receivedsocialcategoriesandalsoalternatelytochallengethosesamegenderandsexual categories.Thoughtransgenderpeopleexisted,thecontemporarycategoryoftransgenderor transsimplydidnotexistinanymedicallyascertainableformby1940. 14 Bychallenging existingcategoriesofsexualorientation,genderidentity,andbiologicalsex,Murray’sstruggle presagedtheverydebatesthatwouldtakeplaceonedecadelaterbetweenJohnMoneyand othersexologistswhobegantograpplewiththemeaningofhomosexuality,therelationshipof gendertosex,themeaningsofintersexualityandhermaphroditism,andawholehostofother terms. Unfortunately, Murray’s own ascent to race leadership outpaced advances in the scientific scholarship onbiological sexand transgender identity, limitingher options and

forcinghertomakedifficultdecisionsaboutheridentity. Shealsostruggledtoreconcilehergenderconflictswithherracialidentity,wonderingif perhapsshewasreallyexperiencingsomekindofsublimatedraceconflictandanemotional response to racial segregation and repression. 15 But, she rejected this initial idea and reaffirmedherprideinherracialorigins.Murray’squestionaboutthewaysherracialidentity relatedtohergenderandsexualidentityisanimportantone.Herbody,whichshefrantically and activelysought to define withinsome acceptable scientific language, includingearly inchoateiterationsofintersexuality,hadalreadybeenmarkedasaparticularkindofracial subject.AsMarlonRossobserves,ifitistruethat“bytheeighteenthcentury,raceisalready marked‘onthebody’asatotalizingsignofinvisibleanatomicalspeciesdifference,thenwhat happensinthenineteenthcenturywhen,asFoucaultargues,homosexualityismarkedon‘the body’”inpreciselythesameway? 16 Foucaultfailstoanswerthisquestionbyassumingthatthe homosexualbodiesofwhichhespeaks“arenotalreadymarkedasNegroidorOriental;thatis, inother words,becausetheyaresilently,invisiblyalreadymarkedasunspecifiedAnglo- Saxons.” 17 Murray’sbodyandherstrugglestocharacterizeand,indeed,authorizeitsvarious modesofbeing,marked“theunevendiscursivedevelopmentofrace,gender,andsexuality” andinvitedthequestion,“Whatdoesitmeanforaracializedbodytobenamedbeforea genderedorhomosexualizedone?” 18

BecomingJaneCrow

JusttwoweeksafterbeingcommittedtoBellevueinMarch1940byherfriendAdelene(Mac)

McBean,thetwowerearrestedinPetersburg,Virginia,fordefyingabussegregationstatute. Forcedtospendthreedaysinasqualidjailcellwithfiveotherwomen,Murrayreflectedin her notebookonthe mixed emotions thatshe feltas a “Negro woman,” ofeducated and respectable origins being forced to endure filthy conditions on account of her fierce commitmenttoracialfreedom. 19 MurrayrecountedthisexperienceinSonginaWearyThroat, asapivotalone,markingherasaraceactivist;butthereisnomentionoftheharrowing hospitalconfinementthathadplaguedherjustweeksbefore.Duringthatconfinement,Murray hadwritteninhernotesthatherdesiretoembracehermalenesswassostrong,thatshesimply couldnotreconcileherselftoanynotionofwomanhood. 20 YetbyMarch25,1940,Murraywas waxingeloquentaboutthepeculiarplightoftheNegrowoman-turned-activist. 21 SongalsodoesnotmentionthatMurraywaspassingasmalewhensheandMacwere arrested. 22 Whenaskedbythepoliceatthesceneforhernameandaddress,shetoldthem, “OliverFleming.”GlendaGilmorerecountsthatoneofthepassengersonthebusthatdaywas awhitesociologygraduatestudentfromUNCnamedHaroldGarfinkel.Theincidentmade suchanimpressiononGarfinkelthathewroteanessayrecountingitcalled“ColorTrouble,” whichwaspublishedtwomonthslaterinOpportunitymagazine. 23 ThefactofPauliMurray’s femalenesswassoundetectableastoentirelyescapeGarfinkel’snotice. 24 Thecomplicated genderperformancesthatunderlieMurray’s“respectable”autobiographicalnarrationofthis incidentevincesometensionsconcerninghowdissemblanceoperateswithinBlackwomen’s leadershipmemoirsversushowitoperatesinpublicspace.Murray’sself-presentationonthe

buswasanunapologeticpublicperformanceofgendernonconformityandfemalemasculinity within the very racialized space—a segregated bus—that adherents to the culture of dissemblanceandthepoliticsofrespectabilitywouldarguedemandedBlackwomen’ssilence andallegiancetoprescribedheterosexualandcisgender(one’sbiological sexandgender performancearecongruent)norms.However,whenshenarratedtheeventsyearslater,Murray leftoutcriticaldetails,renderinghergenderperformancesubordinatetothelargernarrativeof racialsegregation.ThoughGarfinkelperceivedthemasaheterosexualcouple,itisunclear whetherMacwasMurray’sromanticpartner.Whatisclearisthatthesetwoyoungracial activistsengagedingendernonconformingbehaviorsinthepublicsphere.Theirperformances inviteustorethinkthelimitsofthecultureofdissemblanceanditsregulationofBlackwomen intheBlackpublicsphere.Thoughitistruethatnineteenth-centuryideasaboutdissemblance

andrespectabilityhadshiftedsignificantlybythe1940s,itisalsotruethattherewasademand

for womeninthecivil rightseratobemorallyupstandingandwithoutreproach.Gender nonconformityandanyappearanceofqueer sexual identitywouldhavebeenasignificant violationofsociallyacceptablenormsforBlackwomen,especiallythoseengagedinactivist work. Whatemerges, then, is a more dynamic picture ofthe range ofways race women engagedinthepublicsphereandachallengetothenotionthatwomenwhoaspiredtorace leadershipneverperformedintimatesubjectivityinpublic. Theregimeofrespectability,whichcalledintobeingacultureofdissemblance,proceeded uponthefundamentalbeliefthatitwasdetrimentalforBlackwomentoactivelysignalasexual oreroticselfinpublic,becausesuchsignificationswouldmakethemvulnerabletorape.But Murray’sperformanceraisesthequestionofgenderpassingasaformofresistancetothe immediatethreatofrape.Italsohighlightstheinherentheteronormsandcisgenderidentity performances implied byrespectabilitypolitics. How do these two women’s verypublic performances of queer Black female sexuality disrupt the narrative of racial (hetero)respectability?How didsexualityaffectone’sabilitytobecomeasuccessful race woman? First,itbearsnotingthatPauliMurraydidnotautomaticallyseeherselfasawoman.Her gendernonconformity,then,didnotonlycreatewhatHaroldGarfinkelcalled“colortrouble.” ItalsoexemplifiesJudithButler’snow-classicformulationofgenderperformativityas“gender trouble.”InGenderTrouble,Butler codifies the productionofthe categoryofwomen by delineatingthewaysthat“juridicalpower”–thepoweroflaw–“inevitably‘produces’whatit merelyclaimstorepresent.”Shesuggeststhattheremightnotbeanactualsubject,woman, priortothelaw,awaitingrepresentationbythelaw.Rather,thelawnameswomenasagroup thatmusthavecertainrights,privileges,andprotections,andindoingso,createsacategoryof individualcalledwoman.BorrowingfromSimonedeBeauvoir,Butlerconcludes,then,that “oneisnotawoman,butratherbecomesawoman.”Fromthis,“itfollowsthatwomanitselfis aterminprocess,abecoming,aconstructingthatcannotrightfullybesaidtooriginateorto end.” 25 Thisobservationhasanimportantimplicationforgender,whichbecomesultimatelya “performance”inthesensethatthegenderedbody“hasnoontologicalstatusapartfromthe variousactswhichconstituteitsreality.” 26 Thus,genderisdefinedas“therepeatedstylization ofthebody,asetofrepeatedactswithinahighlyrigidregulatoryframethatcongealovertime to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being.” 27 Murray certainly

approachedgenderperformatively,consideringherdescriptionofthoseactionsthatmarked herasmale,includingherpreferenceforpantsoverdressesandherdesiretodothingsthatshe perceivedtobemalesocial amusements.Atthesametime,Murray’sencounter withlaw enforcementoffersusapictureofwhatitmeantforBlackwomenintheCivilRightseratobe interpellatedbythelaw aswomen,evenwhentheirownsenseofgenderidentitywasin conflictwithofficialdefinitions. InthecaseofeventualracewomenactivistslikeMurray,thedictatesofrespectability politics,coupledwiththedemandsofraceleadership,cametoconstitutethe“highlyrigid regulatoryframe” throughwhichcategories of race manhood and race womanhood were produced.Tosayitdifferently,respectabilitypolitics,whichweretakenupasafull-scale politicalprogramaftertheendofReconstruction,notonlyregulatedAfricanAmericangender performance,butalsoactedtoproducethegendercategoriesthemselves,givingpoliticaland culturalshapeandmeaningtowhatitmeanttobearacemanorracewoman,raceboyorrace girl.Fortheseracializedcategoriesofgenderwerestillinfluxjustthirtyyearsaftertheendof slavery; so the cementationofJimCrow, and eventuallyJane Crow, and the politics of respectabilitythataroseinresponse,constitutedaracializedproductionofagenderschema, ratherthanmerelyregulatingexistingschemas.BythetimeMurraybegantonegotiatethese historicalnotionsofracializedgenderandblackmanhoodandwomanhood,sheunderstoodthe “regulatoryframe”tobe“highlyrigid.” Murray’smasculinegenderperformancecausedproblemsforherinbothheractivismand

inhereducation.In1938,sheattemptedtodesegregateaUniversityofNorthCarolinagraduate

program,ironicallythesameprograminwhichGarfinkelwouldbecomeastudent.Denied admissionbecauseofherrace,MurraysoughttobecomeoneoftheNAACP’stestcasesunder the Plessysegregationstatute. Murraypursued admittance to UNCwithher characteristic fervor. She wrote letters to the UNC president, the campus newspaper, and other local opponentslikeJamesShepard,presidentofNorthCarolinaCollegeforNegroes. 28 Buther unapologeticboldnesswasperceivedasadangerous,ifnaive,brashnessbytheNAACP’s leadership,especiallyRoyWilkins.GlendaGilmorenotesthatRoyWilkinsactivelylobbied againsttheNAACPtakingMurray’scasebecause“sinceshehasgonethisfar[inwriting letters],sheshouldbeallowedtoproceedbyherself.” 29 Officially,the NAACPdeclined Murray’scaseonthegroundsthathercollegeattendanceandsubsequentemploymentinNew Yorkmadeherstateresidencyclaimshaky.However,IconcurwithGilmore’sassessmentthat

Wilkins’sdecisionwasmotivatedbymorepersonalmatters,includingMurray’sless-than-

secretlesbianassociations,andevenperhapsherboutswithmentalillness. Murray’srefusaltocomply,atleastduringhercollegeandyoungadultyears,withthe compulsoryheterosexualitydemandedofallrespectableracefigures,especiallyitswomen, becamecostlyasshesoughttochampionracialcauses.Herleadershipstylewasprecocious, aggressive, combative, unrelenting, and intellectual. With regard to her intellectual and rhetoricalability,Murrayneversufferedfromalackofconfidence.Sheoftenregisteredher protest at various and sundry injustices through lengthy letters that she referred to as

“confrontationbytypewriter.” 30 DuringherworkwithA.PhilipRandolphonthefirstMarch

onWashingtonMovementintheearly1940s,Murraytoldhimthatsheconsideredherselfone

of his “lieutenants” in the struggle against racial repression. 31 Wilkins himself was undoubtedlyexasperatedbywhatheandMarshallreferredtoasMurray’s“maverickspirit.” 32 Thissenseofself-possessionandhersenseofwantingtobeclassedasamanamongmen causedMurraytobeoff-puttingtofigureslikeWilkinsandMarshall,whowerenotknownfor theirprogressiveattitudesongender. HopingthatPetersburgwouldprovideheranotheropportunitytobecomeatestcaseforthe NAACP, Murraymade contactagainwithher acquaintances LeonRansomand Thurgood Marshall.Butthejudge,sensinganimpendingstruggle,dismissedthesegregationviolationand simplychargedMurrayandMacwithdisturbingthepeace.Convictedandforcedtoservea briefjailsentence,thetwoyoungwomenhadindeeddisturbedthepeaceinmorewaysthan one: first, bydisruptingthe verysilences thatpresumed a willingacquiescence to racial segregation, and second and more subtly, by disrupting those silences that enshrouded compulsoryheteronormativeselfexpression.TherefusaloftheNAACPtotakeMurray’scase underscores the broad reach of respectability politics, the ways in which respectability politics has played a role in constructing Black gender performances of manhood and womanhood,andtheextenttowhichtheregimeofrespectabilitycircumscribedandlimitedthe strategiesofpoliticalresistanceavailabletothoseinthebroaderAfricanAmericanfreedom struggle.

MurraymaintainedherrelationshipwithRansomwho,asDeanoftheHowardUniversityLaw

School,helpedhersecureascholarshiptherein1941.AtHoward,Murrayencountereda

male-centeredlearningculturerifewith“discriminatorysexbias,”whichshenamed“Jane Crow,”“atwinevil”ofJimCrow. 33 Womenwereoftenthebuttofsexistjokes,muchto Murray’sdismay,andastheonlywomaninherclassandintheentirestudentbody(theother femalestudenthaddroppedout),Murraywasroutinelyexcludedfromclassdiscussions—not because professors “deliberatelyignored” her, butbecause “their freewheelingclassroom style of informal discussion allowed the men’s deeper voices to obliterate [her] lighter voice.” 34 Thisallegedobliterationofvoice,coupledwiththeassumptionthatMurray“had nothingtocontribute,”leftherfeeling“condemnedtosilence.” 35 Theuseofthetermobliterate mighthavebeenhyperboliconMurray’spart,givenherreputationforaggressivequestioning andherwillingnesstoconfrontmaleopponents,buthersenseofherexperiencethereatteststo thewaysinwhichhermasculine-of-centergenderperformancewassummarilyrejected.

FIGURE5.PauliMurray.SchlesingerLibrary,RadcliffeInstitute,HarvardUniversity

FIGURE5.PauliMurray.SchlesingerLibrary,RadcliffeInstitute,HarvardUniversity

ThefunctionofJaneCrowonHoward’scampusfurtherincensedandaggravatedMurray because ofthe increasingcommitmentofHoward’s female students to lead desegregation effortsathomeinsolidaritywithBlackmalesoldierswhowerefightingabroad.WhenPauli’s friendRuthPowellandthreeotherHowardwomenwerearrestedonUStreetforrefusingto overpayfor a cup ofcoffee, their actions galvanized the campus chapter ofthe NAACP. Murray’swomen-centeredaccountoftheHowarddesegregationcampaignprovidesadirect challenge to the male-centered historiography that has dominated civil rights literature. Powell’s arrestundoubtedlyreminded Murrayofher own1940 arrestinPetersburg. But Murrayalsopersonallyfeltanadditionalresponsibilityto“helpmakethecountryforwhich our Blackbrothers were fightinga freer place inwhichtolive whentheyreturnedfrom wartimeservice”sinceitwasmerely“anaccidentofgender[thathad]exemptedmefrom

militaryserviceandleftmefreetopursuemycareer.” 36 Murray’s“accidentofgender,” loomed insistentlyin the background, creating a “dis-ease” that was exacerbated bythe repeatedencroachmentsofJimCrowoutsideofHowardandJaneCrowinsideofHoward.

Duringthe1930s,Howard’sprogramsinhumanitiesandsocialscienceshousedthemost

prominentBlackpublicintellectualsoftheday,includingeconomistAbramHarris,sociologist E.FranklinFrazier,politicalscientistRalphBunche,philosopherAlainLocke,literaryscholar SterlingBrown,andtheologianHowardThurman. 37 Bythe1940s,HowardLawhadtakenupa similarmodel,becomingthepremierenationallaboratoryinwhichthelegalstrategiesofthe civilrightsmovementwerebeingformulatedandtested.Murrayexplained:

ManyofthebriefsinkeycasesbeforetheSupremeCourtwerepreparedinourlawlibrary,andexceptionally ablestudentswererewardedforexcellencebybeingpermittedtoresearchonabriefunderthesupervisionof aprofessor.WhenamajorcasewastobepresentedtotheSupremeCourt,theentireschoolassembledto heardressrehearsalarguments.FacultymembersandalertstudentssubjectedtheNAACPattorneyswho arguedthesecasestosearchingquestions,andbythetimetheattorneysappearedbeforetheninejustices theywerethoroughlypreparedtodefendtheirpositions. 38

DespitetheauspiciousnessofHoward’sintellectualandpoliticalculture,Murrayalsobore thebruntofdeeplyingrainedsexistpractices.Theonlyfemalestudentinherclass,shewas excludedfromjoiningthecampuslegalfraternity.WhensheconfrontedRansomaboutthis obviouslyexclusiveprocess,hetoldhertostartherownlegalsorority.Murrayperceivedher exclusionfromthe“fraternityoflawyerswhowouldmakecivil rightshistory”notasan isolatedcaseofsexism,butratherarepresentativecaseofalargerpracticeofsexistexclusion amongmanyofthemostnotablecivilrightspioneers.“Thediscovery,”wroteMurray,“that RansomandothermenIdeeplyadmiredbecauseoftheirdedicationtocivilrights,menwho themselvessufferedracialindignities,couldcountenancetheexclusionofwomenfromtheir professionalassociationarousedanincipientfeminisminmelongbeforeIknewthemeaning oftheterm‘feminism.’” 39 HerexperiencewithintheintellectualandpoliticalcultureatHowardinvolvedakindof culturaldiscipliningandgenderpolicingdesignedtoforceMurrayintoher“place.”Stillbeset withconflictsoverhergenderidentity,Murrayherselfstruggledtoknowwhatherplacewas.

InMayof1943,thesummerbeforeherfinalyearatHowardLaw,shefoundherselfagain

hospitalizedwithdepression,thistimeinFreedman’sHospitalonHoward’scampus.Dealing withthekindsofracialmasculinitypropagatedatHoward,andthedeliberateexclusionfrom certainprivilegesonaccountofherfemaleness,certainlydidnothelpmatters.WhenMurray confrontedthepoliticsofracialmanhoodinoperationatHoward,shealsoconfrontedakind ofracialdiscipliningthatencodedademandforstrictgenderconformity.Racialrespectability demandednotonlyheteronormativegenderroleperformancesandsexualrelations,butalso cisgenderidentityperformancesaswell.Thoughshewasclearlycommittedtotheupliftofher race,Murraystruggledto“becomeawoman.” ThoughMurrayfirstnamedJaneCrowatHoward,herexperienceofsexisminlegalcircles

radiatedoutward.In1944,sheappliedtodograduateworkatHarvardLaw,atraditionforthe

topstudentintheHowardgraduatingclass.Thistime,shewasrejectednotbecauseofrace,

butbecauseHarvardLawdidnotadmitwomen.Yetagainundaunted,Murraywrotetothe

DeanofHarvardLawSchool,outliningthereasonsthatsheshouldbegrantedadmission. Amongherlaundrylistofappeals,shenotedthateventhoughshewasawoman,shetypically tookamaleperspectiveonthingsandthatthismightaccountforherpersistenceinapplyingfor admissiontoHarvard. 40 ThoughitisunclearwhyMurraythoughtitagoodideatohighlighther biologicalfemalenesswhenhergoalwastohaveHarvardoverlookit,itisclearthatbythe endofhertenureatHowardLaw,shehadmedicallyconfirmedherselftobebiologically femaleandhadbeguntoassimilatesomenotionofgenderidentityasawoman.Thespecterof exclusiononthebasisofhersexundoubtedlymadetheprocessofacceptingherselfasa womanallthemoredifficultandexasperating. Murray’sownpersonalprocessof“becoming”awomancoincidedwithherrecognitionand increasingacknowledgmentofsexismandembraceoffeminismasaresponsetoit.Feminism and,inparticular,herexperienceandnamingofJaneCrow,helpedMurraytoreconcileherself withfemalenessandwomanhood.ButherquiptotheadmissionscommitteeatHarvardLaw Schoolpointstoanongoingdisidentificationwithdominantgenderideology.Inexactlythe samemomentthatsheadmittedtobeingfemale,shealsoclaimedthepositionalityofhavinga “maleperspective”onthings.JoséEstebanMuñozarguesthatdisidentificationis“amodeof dealingwithdominantideology,onethatneitheroptstoassimilatewithinsuchastructurenor

strictly opposes it.” 41 Disidentification in this regard is different from identification or

counter-identification.Identificationencodesanotionofwholesaleacceptance,whilecounter-

identification encodes a notion of wholesale rejection. Disidentification means that one identifieswithsomeaspectsofanoppressivesystemandrejectsothers,inpragmaticwaysthat allowonetoliveandthrive.InMurray’scase,ontheonehand,shedidnotfullyseeherselfas awoman.Ontheother,sherecognizedthatthediscriminationsheexperiencedhadeverything todowithherbeingfemale.SoatexactlythesamemomentthatshenamedJaneCrowasa formofsexistdiscriminationthatshe experiencedas a woman,she was frequentlybeing hospitalizedfordepressionrelatedtoherstrugglewithhergenderidentity.Butshechoseto acknowledgethebiologicalfactofherfemalenessandcametobelieveinasetofpolitical commitments that challenged sexism. She always resisted a strict feminine gender performance,butshedidcometoidentifyasawoman.Inthisway,herstrategiesofnegotiation and survival constitute a form of disidentification with the dominant gender norms she

encounteredduringthe1930sand1940s.

Because scientific thinkingabouttransgender identitywould notfullyemerge until the

1950s,Murrayturnedtofeminismtohelpherthinkmorecriticallyaboutwhatitmeanttobe

bothfemaleandawoman.Thoughthebiologicalfactofherfemalenessindexedarangeof problems related to her personal identity construction, feminismhelped her to articulate concretely, ifpartially, some ofthe oppressions thatshe experienced as a female-bodied

person.Thoughitcouldnot,atthetime,provideanadequateframeworkfornegotiatingher ownemergent—andperhapsarrested—transgenderidentity,feminismdidallow Murrayto thinkproductivelyabout beinga femalebodied person, since anovert male gender-queer performancewouldnotbeanoptioninthecirclesofracialleadership. JaneCrowisalsooneoftheearliestarticulationsofintersectionaltheorywithinBlack feminist thought. When she served on one of the subcommittees of President Kennedy’s President’sCommissionontheStatusofWomen,Murraywroteamemorandumandpersonally

walkeditaroundtokeysenatorsonCapitolHill,whosevoteswerenecessarytomakesurethe

wordsexremainedinthe1964CivilRightsAct.Shewasrespondingtoseveraldifferent

groupsofcritics.Somegroupsopposedtheinclusionofthewordbecausetheythoughtit wouldeliminatespeciallegalprotectionsforwomen,inmuchthesamewaythatthosewho opposedtheEqualRightsAmendmentthought.Someliberalcriticsbelievedthatracismwas Blackwomen’sprimaryproblemandcouldnotseehowsexismaffectedBlackwomenaswell. Onewoman,ontheotherhand,supportedtheamendmentbecausetheinclusionofthewordsex would somehow inexplicably “protect” white women from Black women’s economic competition. Murrayexposed the obvious flaw inher thinkingbypointingoutthatBlack womenexperiencedsexdiscriminationaswell,andthatfrankly“itwasexceedinglydifficult foraNegrowomantodeterminewhetherornotsheisbeingdiscriminatedagainstbecauseof race or sex.” 42 As Julie Gallagher notes, “[T]hese forms of discriminationwere deeply interconnected,areality‘thatNegrowomenareuniquelyqualifiedtoaffirm.’” 43 Notonlydid Murray’s advocacyonbehalf of the Civil Rights Act help ensure the inclusionof legal protectionsagainstsexdiscrimination,butshealsolaidthelegalscaffoldingforKimberle Crenshaw’sintersectionalargumentsaboutBlackwomen’sstatusasaprotectedlegalclassa quarter-century later. Moreover, Murray’s assertion that Black women were “uniquely qualifiedtoaffirm”theinterconnectednessofraceandsexdiscriminationechoedthesame assertionsfromherracewomenforebearslikeAnnaJuliaCooperandMaryChurchTerrell.In sodoing,herlegaltheorizingconcerningblackwomenandraceandsexdiscriminationisthe mostdirectprecursortotheemergenceofintersectionalthinkingwithinthelawandwithin CriticalRaceTheorytwodecadeslater. Murrayalsopioneeredtheuseoftherace-sexanalogyinherthinking.Forinstance,she encouraged organizations like the National Organization of Women (NOW), which she cofounded,andtheACLUwithwhomsheworkedtopursueanti–sexdiscriminationcases underthefourteenthamendmentEqualProtectionclauseascivilrightsattorneyshaddonein

thefightagainstracism.In1970,inanarticleentitled“ConstitutionalLawandBlackWomen,”

MurrayarguedthatBlackwomenhaveadualstakeinantiracismandantisexismlegislation becausetheyarebothBlackandwomen.Theuseoftherace-sexanalogybecameoneof Murray’smostsignalcontributionstolegalthoughtandcivilrightsactivism. 44 She usedthe race-sexanalogytodemonstrate thatBlackwomenwere viable juridical subjectscapableofbothlegalrecognitionandremedy.Withregardto“thestatusoftheBlack womanunderthelaw,”Murrayarguedthatshe“isaffectednotmerelybyherrelationshiptoa Blackmalebutalsobythepositionofwomeninthetotalsociety.” 45 Blackwomen’shistorical relationshiptothelawhasbeenasa“broodmare.”Thus,“theforciblerapeofafemaleslave byanotherpersonotherthanhermasterwasnotconsideredacrimebutonlytrespassuponand injurytothepropertyofhermaster.” 46 GiventheprecariousstatusofBlackwomenwithinthe law,Murrayconcludedthatthey“haveanimportantstakeinthepresentmovementtomakethe guaranteeofequalrightswithoutregardtosexpartofthefundamentallawoftheland.” 47 Murray called this strategy of using the race-sex analogy, “reasoning from race.” As I demonstratelaterinthechapter,Murraydidn’tjust“reasonfromrace”inherlegalcareer.She workedoutthesocialimplicationsofthisanalogyinherownlife,reasoningthatlikeracism

andsexism,thesamethingsthatcouldbetrueaboutracialidentitycouldalsobetrueabout sexualidentity. Beyond its intersectional implications, Jane Crow also named a sociospatial race and genderformationthatshapedBlackwomenasknowledgeproducersandintellectualleaders. 48 WhereasintersectionalapproacheshavealwayssoughttomakeBlackwomensociallyand juridicallylegible,JaneCrowexposedthewaysinwhichthecultureoflegalinstitutionsinthe Civil Rights era,metonymicallysymbolizedbyHowardUniversityLaw School,militated against Black women’s ability to resist damaging institutional definitions of Black womanhood.Thus,JaneCrowisalsodeeplyrootedinaBlackintellectualhistorycontextthat soughtnotonlytoinstitutionalizeparticulardefinitionsofracialfreedombutalsotoformalize anarrativeofproperracemanhoodandwomanhood.Consequently,itwasatHowardthat Murraybecame,notonlyawoman,butalsoaracewoman.

WhyNegroGirlsStaySingle:CompulsoryHeterosexualityandthePoliticsof

Respectability

Just as in the heyday of Mary Church Terrell, Black marriage politics have residually dominated Black cultural and political conversations among Black intellectuals. Black women’snegotiationofthepoliticsoftheirintimatelivesprovidesanimportantlayertothe discussionofhowotherwisepublicwomeninhabitedtheirpersonaldailylives.PauliMurray

enteredanongoingdebateaboutBlackmarriageandgenderroleswithher1947essay—really,

amanifesto—entitled“WhyNegroGirlsStaySingle,”whichappearedinthepagesofNegro Digest,theforerunnertoEbonyMagazine.DayoGorenotesthatMurray’spiecewaspartofa long-runningconversationamongAfricanAmericanpublicintellectuals.Someofthemore notablepiecesincludedAnnPetry’s“What’sWrongwithNegroMen?”andRoiOttley’sreply, “What’sWrongwithNegroWomen?”St.ClairDrakerespondedtoMurray’spiecewithan essayentitled“WhyNegroMenLeave.”Gorenotesthatthesearticles“provideaglimpseof howdebatesoverblackwomanhoodandtheblackfamilytookshapeamongAfricanAmerican publicintellectuals.” 49 By1947,Murray,agraduateofHowardandnewlynamedwomanof theyearbytheNationalCouncilofNegroWomenandMademoisellemagazine,hadindeed becomeapublicfigure. MurraytooktheopportunityinherarticletofurtherdevelopherconceptionofwhatAyesha Hardisonterms“JaneCrowdiscourse,”awayofspeakingabout“blackfemalesubjectivity underaspecificsetofsocialconditions:massmigration,changinggenderrelations,class anxietyandracial strife.” 50 Murrayproclaimedthatthe Negrowomanwas ina “state of revolt”againstadual“frameworkof‘malesupremacy’and‘whitesupremacy’[inwhich]the Negrowomanfindsherselfatthebottomofthesocioeconomicscale.” 51 Therevoltwasbeing “feltmostkeenlyamongNegrocollege-trainedandprofessionalwomen.”Suchawoman,who inmanycaseshadoutpacedhermalecounterpartineducationalachievement,couldnot“finda matewithwhomshecansharealltherichnessofherlifeinadditiontoitsfunctionalaspects.” Murrayaverredthatthesewomen’sadvancededucationalskillsandincreasedearningpower “wereasocialhandicapif[thewoman]wantedmarriage.”Menwouldshyawayfromsuch relationships,because“itistoogreatathreattotheirsecurity.”AndsinceBlackwomencould

notlooktotheserelationshipsforeconomicsecurity,theymightstillfindinthemamodicumof emotionalsecurity.“Buthereagain,”Murraydeclares,“she[theNegrowoman]isdefeated.” “TheAmericanNegromaleisnotpreparedtoofferemotionalsecuritybecausehehasrarely,if ever,knownithimself.…HissubmergedstatusinAmericanlifeplacesunnaturalstressesand strainsuponhisalreadyinadequateequipmentinheritedfromourimmaturedemocracy.” 52 NotwithstandingthecleardigatBlackmen’s“inadequateequipment,”adigthatisshot throughwithMurray’sownanxietiesregardingher“equipment,”shenailedtheanalysisofthe waysthatracismandthefailuresofliberalAmericandemocracyhadstuntedandentrapped BlackmeninretrogradeideasaboutBlackmasculinity.Thisfrustratedmasculine(andgender) developmentequatedtoa“generalmis-educationofthesexes,”which,whencoupledwith “outmodedsocialtabus[sic]…havehelpedtoformrigidmouldsintowhichthesexesare pouredandwhichdetermineinadvancetherolemenandwomenaretoplayincommunity life.”ThepoliticsofracialmanhoodcompelledBlackmento“actasiftheyarethelordsof creation,thebreadwinnersandwarriorsofourtimeandofalltime.”But,Murrayassessed, “they play the role with varying degrees of hamacting and success” and really “are as frightenedandinsecureasmodernwomenare.” 53 InMurray’sestimation,Blackmenwerefrustratedpatriarchs,notfull-fledgedpatriarchal figures.IntermsofBlackfeministassessmentsofpatriarchy,thatintellectualdistinctionis important.TheNegromale,shewrote,is“thevictimofconstantfrustrationinhisroleasa malebecausesociallyheissubordinatetothewhitewomanalthoughheistrainedtoactasa member of the dominant sex. He is required to fit his human emotions into a racially determinedpatternwhichmayhavenothingtodowithhisdesires.” 54 Ontheonehand,Black menwanttodominatewhitewomenastrueandpropermales;ontheotherhand,theyare sometimessexuallyattractedtothem.Inbothcases,thelogicofracialsegregationdeniesthem theopportunitytoexercisethesemaleprerogatives.ItissurprisingthatMurraydoesnotfurther interrogatetheproblematicrelationshipimpliedherebetweenBlackmenandwhitewomen, especiallysincesheindicatesearlyintheessaythatwhitewomenareBlackwomen’sallies around issues of sex discrimination. Instead, she focused her attention on the ways that experiencesofsubordinatemasculinity 55 precipitatedtheabuseofBlackwomen,leadingto Blackmenthatwould“vent[their]resentmentsupontheNegrowomanwhomaybecome [their]sexpartner.” Atthesametime,however,shearguedthattheconstantconflictsbetweenwhitemenand BlackmenovertheirrespectivetreatmentsofBlackwomenandwhitewomen“contributestoa jungle of human relationships, aggravates among Negroes the alienation of the sexes, intensifieshomosexualityandoftenresultsinarisingincidenceofcrimesofpassion,broken homes and divorces.” 56 This clear endorsement of the compulsory heterosexuality that undergirdsracialrespectabilitypoliticsandshunningofsexual“deviance”demonstratesthe tensionsthatanimatedMurray’sownascentintopublicracewomanhood. 57 By1947,Murray hadhadafewpassionateromanticrelationshipswithwomen,andaverybrieffailedmarriage toaman.Inthisregard,sheabsolutelydidnotfollowthedictatesofrespectabilityaround heteronormativemarriage.However,herexperienceofpatriarchyandsexismdirectedather femalebodydemandedasophisticatedandextensivecritiqueofsexroles.Femalenesshad

disrupted both her professional and personal aspirations, by foreclosing access to top institutionslikeHarvardontheonehand,andbymakingitimpossibleforhertopursuefully without censure the love relationships she wanted withwomen, onthe other. She could demonizehomosexuality,becauseshe,too,vieweditasadeviantpractice.Inherestimation,if shewereattractedtowomen,thenshemustbemale,anassessmentthatpointstowaysshe livedinthetensionbetweenbiologicalsex,sexualorientation,andgenderidentity.Thus,her adoptionofafeministpoliticisfraughtwithherowncontinuedstruggleswithgender—onthe onehand,notidentifyingwithwomanhood,andontheother,notacceptingmalesexismand patriarchy. Workingwithinaheteronormativeframework,Murrayadvocatedforhealthierrelationships betweenmenandwomen:“WedesirethattheNegromaleaccepttheNegrofemaleashisequal andtreatheraccordinglyandthatheceasehisruthlessaggressionuponherandhisemotional exploitationofhermadepossiblebyheradmittedlyinferiorpositionasasocialhumanbeing intheUnitedStates.”MurrayalsocalledfortheBlackmanto“striveforemotionalmaturity himself,”to“seetheNegrowomanasapersonality,”andto“maintainthedignityandrespect for human personality with relation to the Negro woman.” Although her progressive prescriptionsarelaudable,theyalsoreinscribesocialnormsthatplacequeeridentityand racialrespectabilityatodds. Inmanyways,Murray’scapitulationtorespectabilitypoliticsspeakslesstoapersonal failingandmoretotherecalcitranceandrelentlessnessofgendernormsinBlackcommunities,

especiallyforthosewhowantedtoassumethemantleofraceleadership.Ina1943letterto

LillianSmith, Murrayattested to the unyieldingheteronormativityshe encountered among membersofherownrace,indicatingthatmuchofthesocialconservatismaroundsexualitythat sheexperiencedamongBlackpeoplemadeherabsolutelymiserable. 58 EvelynHammonds arguesthat“Blacklesbiansare‘outsiders’inBlackcommunities,”andthatthisoutsiderstatus is conferred bystraightBlackwomenactinginservice ofa politics ofrespectabilityor silence.“Ifweaccepttheexistenceofthe‘politicsofsilence’asanhistoricallegacysharedby allBlackwomen,”Hammondsavers,“thencertainexpressionsofBlackfemalesexualitywill berendereddangerous,forindividualsandforthecollectivity.Fromthisitfollowsthatthe culture ofdissemblance makes itacceptable for some heterosexual Blackwomento cast lesbiansasproverbialtraitorstotherace.” 59 StraightBlackwomenparticularlyvexedMurray,despiteherferventdefenseoftheminher manifesto.Murraywas repeatedlyrebuffedbyputativelyheterosexual Blackwomenwho, whentheybecameattractedtoher,toldhertoobtainpsychiatrichelpandtreatedherasa deviant.Becauseoftheseconflicts,Murraydidnotalwaysmoveunencumberedthroughthe Black female social networks that characterized earlier generations of Black female leadership.ForwhilethelargersocietyviewedBlackpeopleasracialdeviants,herown communityviewed her as a sexual deviant. Murray’s failure to gainbroad acceptance in AfricanAmericancommunitiesinformedhertendencytopursuefriendships,leadership,and politicalconsciousnessoutsideofdistinctivelyAfricanAmericanorganizationsandnetworks, thoughshedidnoteschewthemaltogether. 60 Consequently,Murray’sinabilitytoembody—toreconcile—thediscoursesavailabletoher regardingher biological sex, her gender identity, and her sexualityalongside respectable

notions ofBlackness, placedher inthe uneasypositionofdefendingracial respectability politics.Asapoliticalandtextualpraxisofresistanceinvokedbyracewomen,embodied discourse offers a set of tools through which they attempt to cohere their bodily selfpresentation with transformative social discourses in order to make the case for the inherent value of Black womanhood and personhood. However, for Murray, embodied discourse had its limits. “The rigid moulds into which the sexes are poured,” and the compulsoryheterosexualityportendedbysuchmoldsbecameasocialGoliaththatshecould notslay. While Murray’s private sexual life suggested far more fluidity and nonconformity to heteronorms,herdesiretomoveintopubliclifesubjectedhertothediscipliningforcesof racial heteronormativity. The proper performance of the politics of respectability was a nonnegotiableprerequisiteforracewomen’sascenttoleadership,andwhilethediscourseof respectabilityemergedspecificallytocombatnotionsaboutBlackwomen’shypersexualityand (hetero)sexual deviance—a charge which left them vulnerable to rape—respectability demanded an allegiance to the proper performance of functional heterosexual unions as evidenceofAfricanAmerican’sfitnessforcitizenship,andalsoforracewomen’sleadership. Infact,presumptiveheterosexualityhasbeensonormativelyentrenchedinthestudyofBlack women’s lives thatthere has beenverylittle sustained public dialogue aboutthe lackof traditionalheterosexualrelationshipsinthelivesofracewomenlikeAnnaJuliaCooper,Mary McLeodBethune,orEllaBaker,allofwhomwerewidowedordivorced,andapparently disinterestedinremarrying. 61 Acknowledgingthecomplicatedandinextricablerelationshipbetweenraceandsexualityis criticaltounderstandingMurray’sconflictsandthewaysitinformedherpublicandprivate personas.CandiceJenkinsarguesthat“infactthe‘political’andthe‘intimate’maybemutually constitutivesignsfortheBlacksubject,”somuchso,that“itmaynotbepossible,orsensible, to thinkaboutracial identitywithoutthinking, simultaneously, ofintimate subjectivityfor African Americans.” The larger implication is that “the ‘public’ and ‘private’ faces of Blacknesscannotandperhapsshouldnot,bedistinguishedwithanygreatease.” 62 MurrayhadbecomeavictimofaracialideologythatCandiceJenkinsreferstoasthe salvificwish,aniterationofthepoliticsofrespectability,whichis“bestdefinedasthedesire to rescue the Blackcommunityfromracistaccusations ofsexual and domestic pathology throughtheembraceofbourgeoispropriety.” 63 Thesalvificwishisa“responsetothepeculiar vulnerabilityofthe Blacksubjectwithregard to intimate conduct,” whichleaves “Black bodies,understoodassitesofsexualexcess…[as]doublyvulnerableintheintimatearena— to intimacyitselfas well as to the violence ofsocial misperceptions surroundingBlack intimatecharacter.” 64 Murray’sownstatedallegiancestoheterosexualitymightthereforemore appropriatelybereadinthecontextofthesalvificwishanditsbeguilingpossibilitiesfor combatingBlacksocialills. 65 But if intimacy itself has such potential for violence—here understood as denial and exclusion—thenitmightbemoreusefultoconsiderMurray’sstruggleswithqueeridentityin termsoftheexclusionsforvariousbreachesofracialconductthatrespectabilitymandated withinBlackcommunities.Morespecifically,wemightreadthegeneralizedBlackfemale

subjectofher1947manifestoasakindofstand-inforMurray’sownstruggleswiththegender

politicsofBlackcommunities.ThisleadstotwoquestionsthatIwanttospendthefinalsection ofthischapteranswering:Whatdoesitmeanif“thesalvificwish,withitsattemptstorepress anddisciplineBlackintimateconduct[by]limitingthatconducttopatternsofrespectability” becomesasitefortherepressionofBlackintimacyandsubjectivity?And,moreimportantly, how do Black female race leaders negotiate these exclusionary and repressive cultural politics?

IrreconcilableDifferences:TowardMultiracialPeculiarity

Bestedbytherecalcitranceofsocialdiscoursesonsexandgender,PauliMurrayturnedher attentiontothequestionofracialidentity.Asmentionedearlier,shepublishedProudShoesin

1956,thefirstoftwoautobiographies.Herhistoricalimpulsetosettherecordstraightasit

relatedtoissuesofBlackparticipationintheCivilWarandherownAmericanoriginsfits withinthe range ofimpulses thathave characterizedrace women’s turntoautobiography, includinganeedtorevise“official,”exclusionisthistoricalnarratives;adesiretotheorize aboutraceandgenderidentityastheyrelatetoBlackfemalesubjectivity;andanopportunityto exploreformsofembodieddiscoursethatmightallowthemtocounterthesexualsilences demandedbythepoliticsofrespectabilityandthecultureofdissemblance.However,thetext alsohadamoreimmediateaim:torecuperateMurray’spublicimageaftershebecameatarget oftheRedScare.

In1952,Murrayappliedforajobas“researchassistanttotheDirectoroftheCodification

ofLawsofLiberia,”“theprogramPresidentTrumaninitiatedtoprovidetechnicalassistance tounderdevelopednations.” 66 ParticipationinthisprojectwasattheheartofMurray’sown emergentunderstandingofAfricanAmericanracialidentity.Intheunpublishedprologueto ProudShoes,MurraywrotethatshewasdrawntoLiberiabecauseithadculturaltraditions thatdrewuponbothAmericanandAfricanroots.Thus,theresearchpositionwouldoffera chance to study how African Americans who had expatriated to Liberia dealt with the challengeofbothlosingandregainingelementsoftheirAfricanheritage. 67 ForMurray,Liberia was evidence notofBlackor Africanresistance to failed Americanidealism, butrather evidence of BlackAmericans fundamental affinityfor their Americanhomeland. 68 In the

introductiontothe1978editionofProudShoes,MurraynotedthatdespiteasojourntoGhana

intheensuingyearsbetweenthebook’sfirstpublication,sheremainedfirminher“conviction that[she]wasoftheNewWorld,irrevocablyboundtothedestinyof[her]nativeAmerica.” 69 Nevertheless, Murray’s participation in her twenties with the Socialist party and the LovestoneiteMovementmadehercandidacyunviableandcausedher“pastassociations”tobe subjectedtorelentlessscrutiny. 70 Murraychosetorespondtotheseaspersionsbyupendingand refiguringwhatwasmeantby“past.” 71 HerwhiteancestorshadbeenapartoftheNorth Carolinaplanterclass,andoneofthemhaddonatedmuchofthelandonwhichtheUniversity ofNorthCarolina now sits. Enamored ofher white forebears, Murraybelieved that her family’srelationshiptothepeculiarinstitutionofslaveryhadgivenhera“peculiarlyAmerican background,”alongandidentifiableprocessionofmixedraceancestryofwhichshewasquite

proud.RecuperatingFannieBarrierWilliams’slanguageofpeculiarityanditsinvocationsof thewaysthatslaveryhadaffectedBlackwomen’sreproductivechoices,Murraychosetouse hermixedraceheritagefordecidedlydifferentends.These“pastassociations”wouldgiveher the necessary racial currency in her quest to be what she termed “an unhyphenated American.” 72 Thedesiretobeunhyphenatedwasnotonlyaclaimagainstracialdemarcationsbutalsoa gesturetowardthesexualidentityconflictsthathauntedMurraythroughoutheryoungadultlife. Byforegroundinghermultiracialheritage,Murrayhopedtoneutralizepolarizingdiscoursesof racialandsexualbinarismviaaclaimtomultiplicity.JaredSextonarguesthat“conceptionsof themultiracial cannothelpbutimplya productionofrace inthe fieldofheterosexuality, nominating,morespecifically,thereproductivesexactastheprincipalsiteofmediationfor

racialdifferenceitself.” 73 Consequently,inthechoicetoforegroundherfamily’smixed-race heritageandtheconsensualinterracialrelationshipsofsomeofherancestors,Murraymade visibleandevencelebratedthequotidiannatureofinterracial sex.Consensual interracial relationships didnotmerelysubvertthebinaryracial logicthatundergirdedheterosexual practices in the American context; consensual interracial relationships also exposed the racializingfunctionofheteronormativityitself.AsAliyyahI.Abdur-Rahmanargues,“[N]ot onlydoessexualityfundamentallyunderlieraciallogics,but,moretothepoint,racialidentity isitselfconceived,regulated,anddisciplinedthroughsexuality—throughsexual practices, violations,andnorms.” 74 Heteronormativitydoesnotjustdemandsexualdifference,butalsoracialdifference.Inthe Americanheteronormativecontext,heterosexualactsbetweenconsentingwhitepartieshave historicallybeenviewedasthemostappropriateandpermissibleexpressionofsexualactivity.

Thus,inpointingtoherownfamily’s“peculiar”Americanpastofmultigenerationalmixed-

racerelationships,MurrayoffersaqueerreadingofherracialpastandAmerica’sracialand sexual past. Here again, Ross’s point about the uneven history of racial and sexual developmentisinstructive. 75 BecauseracializeddiscoursemarkedBlackbodiesasdeviant beforehomosexualityasadiscursiveconceptactuallyexisted,thenitwouldbecriticalto disentangleanddismantletheraciallogicofheteronormativitybeforeonecoulddismantleits sexuallogic. 76 Itwaspreciselythisunevendevelopmentofdiscoursesonraceandsexthatseemedto createanimpossibilityforMurrayasshesoughttounderstandandmakelegibleherown sexualidentitywithinthescientificdiscoursesavailabletoher.Becauseracialdiscourseshad alongerhistoryintheU.S.,Murrayinheritedbothalargernationalnarrativeandafamily narrativethathaddisruptednotionsofbiologicalfixity,inthatsomanypeopleinherfamily hadpassedforwhite.AsAlbertMurrayhassaid,“Americanculture,eveninitsmostrigidly segregated precincts, is patently and irrevocably composite. It is, regardless of all the hystericalprotestationsofthosewhowouldhaveitotherwise,incontestablymulatto.” 77 Thus, Murraypossessedasetofdiscursiveresources,backedupbyculturalsupport,topushback againstthebinarylogicofrace. Murray’sauntsvigilantlyinculcatedanappreciationofthebroadracialdimensionsoftheir heritage. They recounted, for instance, how Murray’s great-grandfather Thomas was the

progeny of Irish royalty. Having “Fitzgerald ancestors from County Kildare, Ireland,…strengthenedthegrowingshellofprideusedtoprotectthesoftunderbellyand wobblylegsofacreaturelearningslowlytonavigateinacruellysegregatedworld.” 78 Here, Murrayusesthiscorporealimageofherchildhoodselftoenactthetextualpraxisofembodied discoursebywritingherbody,initsformativestages,intothetextasavulnerablesubject caughtbetweenracialfixityandmalleability.ThatyoungPauliproudlyidentifieswithher whiteancestor ismeanttosignal,notaninternalizationofracial self-hatred,butrather a disidentificationwiththebinaryraciallogicofsegregationandwhitesupremacy. Manyofherrelativeschangedtheirracialstatusincensuscountsatwill,identifyingone wayinonedecade,anddifferentlythenext.Thefactthather“peopletraveledbackandforth throughthiscorridorofmixedbloodsastheychose,” 79 gaveMurrayaclearsenseofhow identitycould operate influid terms. Whereas the law became a place thatfixed gender identitiesthroughtherecognitionofthecategory“woman,”Murray’sancestors’refusal of staticracial identificationacrosstime,particularlyonthecensus,defiedlegal attemptsto imposefixityupontheirracialidentities.Hercelebrationofherfamily’srefusalofofficial, externally imposed racial boundaries reinforced her lifelong resistance to institutional definitionsofrace,gender,andsexuality.Thoughshereliedonthelaw’sofficialrecognitionof Blackpeople and womeninorder to advocate for civil rights, her approachwas more pragmaticthanideological.Shefirmlybelievedthattheattempttoforcehumanbeingsinto “rigid”categoriesofracialandgenderidentificationwasdehumanizing,nottomentionan inaccuratewaytocharacterizetherangeofhumanexperiences.Yet,shealsounderstoodthat “beingcaught‘betwixtandbetween’theraces”wasaspaceof“doingbattle.” 80 Thiscontested space,whichtheFitzgeralds,Murray’smulattorelatives,occupied,wasa“noman’sland betweenthewhitesandBlacks,belongingwhollytoneitheryetirrevocablytiedtoboth.” 81 AddingherownracialtheorizingtothebroadtraditionofBlackfeministthought,Murray concludedthatracialmalleabilityandfluidityarethelogicaltelostoAmerica’speculiarracial history. Evenso,racialmalleabilitywasnotaforegoneconclusion.Foralthoughknowledgeofher noblewhiteancestryprovideda“shell”ofprotectionforMurray,italso“morethananything else,keptme,”shewrites,“fromanacceptanceofmylot.Iwouldalwaysbetryingtobreak outoftherigidmoldintowhichIwasbeingforced.Iwouldalwaysbeinrebellionagainstthe crushingwalls until people no longer needed legends abouttheir ancestors to give them distinctivenessandself-respect.” 82 Herreturntotheimageofthe“rigidmoldsintowhich[she] wasbeingforced,”invokedherdiscussionadecadeearlieraboutthemis-educationofthe sexes. This similarityinlanguage is notaccidental;rather itpoints us to sublimated and subversivesexualdesiresthatremaineddangerousforaracewomantoarticulateinpublic.

InaletterwritteninMarch1973toherfriendPegHolmes,awhitewomanwithwhom

Murrayhadaromanticrelationshipinthelate1930s,MurraytoldPegthatshewasreturning

pictures,mostprobablyofPegandamasculine-performingPauli,intellingromanticposes. OnepicturewasparticularlydifficultforMurraytoreturn,andshenotedthatithadinspireda passageinProudShoes. 83 Thepassageinquestionwasadescriptionofthemassiveattempts atfamilialreconciliationamongseparatedBlackfamiliesthattookplaceintheimmediate

aftermathoftheCivilWar:

Inthis restless movementwerethoseforwhom freedom meantanunendingquestforlovedones.Years before, they had been parted; wives sold one way and husbands another, children separated from their parentsand[the]agedseparatedfromtheirchildren.Whenthepartingcame,eachhadcarriedwithhiman imageofhislovedoneandtheplacewherehehadlefthim.Allhisremainingyearshewouldbeinquiringof peopleiftheyhadheardofaslavecalled“BlackCato”or“YellowSam”or“Sally,”andtryingtogettothatplace wheretheyhadbeenseparated.Hewoulddescribethelovedoneintheintimatewayherememberedhim—a charmwornabouttheneck,adimpleinthecheek,acertainmannerofwalkingorsmiling.Itdidnotmatterthat childrenhadgrownupandwhitehaired.Thedescriptionremainedthesame. 84

Thenarrativeoffamilialreconciliationafterslaveryisapowerfulandimportantmomentin Blackpeople’s quest for freedom. Its invocationhere demonstrates that evenbefore she pioneeredthelegalstrategyofreasoningfromrace,Murrayuseddeeplysignificantracial narratives to embed her own ideas about sexual freedom and kinship. The intentional submersionofhersexualnarrativeintothelargerracialnarrative,viauseofwhatDruryrefers toas“invisiblefootnotes,”stitchesPauliandPeg’sinterracialsame-sexrelationshiptothe backing of America’s mulatto heritage and to Black people’s queer past. 85 Murray demonstratesthataracialpastnecessarilyencodesasexualpast,butheraccountofmultiracial American identity resists the normativizing imperatives of the official American binary classificationofrace.Byforcingherreaderstothinksimultaneouslyaboutracialidentityand intimatesubjectivity,sheforcesustoconsiderAmerica’speculiarracializingimperativeasa queerpracticeallitsown. 86 Murray’sweavingofherownqueersexualpastintoacollectively resonantracialnarrativesuggestsadeepdisidentificationwiththeheteronormativedictatesof respectable AfricanAmericansocietyand simultaneouslydemonstrates Candice Jenkins’s pointabouttheinextricabilityofracialidentityandintimatesubjectivity. 87 Thispassage,and Murray’sarchivalletteraboutitsorigins,attesttothewaysthatsheintentionallystretched racialnarrativestomakeroomforherself. Writingaboutthequestforracialreconciliationinawaythatfundamentallyacknowledged the humanlongingfor kinship,Murraycreatedspace withina broader racial narrative to acknowledgeherownsublimatedlongingsforacertainkindofrelationalconnectiontoa lovedone.Inthisregard,ProudShoestillsnewgroundintermsofracewomen’srevisionist historicalproject,namelyinsertinganunspeakablesexualpastintoapoignantandresidual communitynarrativethatmarkedtheshiftfromunfreedomtofreedombytheabilitytobewith theonesyouloved. 88 Itisimportant,too,thatthepassagereferstothewaysthatkinshipand connectionismarkedonthebody—throughdimples,akindofsmile,aparticularkindofwalk. Murray’sargumentgroundsherchallengetotherigididentitymoldsfundamentallywithinthe body,largelybecausesheunderstoodhersexualityandgenderidentityintermsofastruggle bothwithinandaroundherbody. Thecorporealimageryinthistext,coupledwithMurray’stextualinterpellationsofherown queerness,constitutesanewiterationofembodieddiscourseinBlackwomen’sautobiography. Likehernineteenth-centuryforebears,Murraycelebratesthebodilymemoriesofthenewly free,butshealsousesthesebodiesastextualvehiclesforherownsexualandbodilypleasures and remembrances. Hardison argues that “the mandates of middle-class respectability demandedMurray’s silenceonher sexualityinher memoir,as thepolitics ofJaneCrow

circumscribednotonlyblackwomen’sliteralbodiesbutalsotheirtextualrepresentation.” 89 Thus, Murray’s particular appropriation of this racial narrative queers the narrative of multiracialidentityandfamilialconnectionwithintheU.S.context.Andheruseofembodied discourseasaformoftextualactivismagainstrespectablesilenceprovidesawayforusto readwomen’sautobiographies“asnegotiationsinnamingtheunspeakable.” 90 Moreover,the narrativeallowsusto“claimacriticallocationfromwhichtoreadthesexualunspeakable fromoutside a polarized frameworkinwhichnormative heterosexualityand oppositional homosexualityoperateasauthorizedandmutuallyexclusivediscourses.” 91 Bynarratingher own irreconcilable differences through the carefully chosen surrogate race narratives of Emancipationandreconciliation,Murrayrefractedherown“unendingquestforlovedones” throughthequeeredprismofawhollyracial experience.Herrefusal oftheracial binary constitutedarejectionofitsnarrativeauthorityoverherhistory,bothsexualandracial.She understoodthestaticracialboundarytobeanobstaclewhoseswiftandsureremovalwasthe necessaryfirststepinherquesttoauthorizeherself. PauliMurray,amid-twentieth-centuryracewomanproblematizesoureasyimpositionofthe categories ofrace and womanhood onher body. While she is criticallyimportantto the intellectualhistoriesofCivilRights,theWomen’sMovement,andBlackfeminism,sheherself wasalsodeeplyambivalentaboutwhatitmeanttobeBlackandwhatitmeanttobeawoman. Thus, she attempted to understand her actual corporeal bodywithinavailable social and scientificdiscourses,withlimitedresults.Ultimately,whileshedemonstratedthegendered dimensionsofJimCrowsegregationbypointingustoJaneCrow,andwhileshedemonstrated thatAmerica’spastismorepeculiarthanexceptional,shealsoconfrontedprofoundlimitations assheattemptedtoembodythesocialdiscoursesaroundraceandgenderthroughwhichshe was supposed to understand herself. Thus, she reasoned from race, through American peculiarity,towardaprofoundlyqueerandembodiedconceptionofwhatitmeanttobeJane Crow. AttheheightofherstruggleoverwhatitmeanttoBlack,AfricanAmericancommunities renewedtheirdebateabouttheroleofwomeninintellectualandpoliticalstruggle.Murray’s owndefiantoppositiontotheracialandsexualpoliticsoftheBlackPowereraserveasa backdropforthenextchapter,whichoffersapictureofhowBlackcommunitiesbothcontested andconstructedleadershiprolesforwomenduringtheshiftfromCivilRightstoBlackPower.

CHAPTER4

TheProblemsandPossibilitiesofthe

NegroWomanIntellectual

Negrowomenintellectualssharetworesponsibilities:toreallybeanintellectual (althoughshemaynoteatwell,havefriendsandbecreditedwithloosescrews) andtohelpshapeanewdefinitionoffemininity.

—PonchittaPierce,EbonyMagazine(1966)

n1966,theyearthat“BlackPower”replaced“FreedomNow”asthedominantsloganofthe

Civil Rights movement, Black communities struggled to determine the best leadership

strategies for racial advancement. One year earlier, the infamous Moynihan Report had

brandedBlackwomenasthedenizensofBlackracialpathologybecauseoftheirallegediron-

fistedmatriarchalruleofBlackfamilies.WhereasBlackwomen’sideasaboutbuildingstrong Blackfamilieshadbeenthedrivingforceoftheirpoliticalorganizinginwomen’sclubsinthe firsthalfofthetwentiethcentury,theMoynihanreportindicatedthattheupliftinfrastructure Blackwomenhadsocarefullybuilthadcrumbled.Alongwithitcamearesurgenceofthe culturaldistrustofBlackwomen’spoliticalideasandleadershipabilities.Theperformanceof respectable racial manhood and womanhood had failed to foster Black people’s full assimilationintoU.S.civilsociety. Indicative ofthis cultural upheaval, anEbonyMagazine special issue on“The Negro Woman”containedanarticleentitled“ProblemsoftheNegroWomanIntellectual.” 1 Itbegan withthisobservation:“TheNegrowomanintellectualiseasilyoneofthemostmisunderstood, unappreciatedandproblem-riddenofallGod’screatures.Infact,ifitwerelefttomanyNegro malesalonetodecide,shewouldnotevenexist.” 2 Culturalhyperboleaside,beingaBlack woman intellectual apparently constituted the stuff of existential crisis. Though Black communitiesmayhavebeenincrisisbecauseofshiftsinBlackleadershipanddamaging nationaldiscourses,EbonyMagazinechosetoplacethatcrisisatthefeetofBlackwomen, eventhoughtheauthoracknowledgedthatitwasBlackmenwhoweremostuncomfortable. Blackmenwerequick,wrotePonchittaPierce,to“deprecatethewomanintellectual,”even

though“fewreallyknowthisobjectoftheirdiscontent.” 3 Blackwomenintellectualsdefied existingcategoriesofculturalandracialidentity,creatingbothapoliticalandintellectual problemwithinBlackcommunitiesthat,sincethenineteenthcentury,hadrespondedtopolitical instabilitybyreassertingtheprimacyoftraditionalgenderroles. TheescalationoftheintergenerationalconflictbetweenMartinLutherKingJr.andStokely

Carmichael(KwameTure)inthesummerof1966dramatizednotonlytwokindsofBlack

politicalpossibilities,butalsotwopotentialkindsofBlackmasculinegenderperformance— therespectableracialmanhoodofoldandtherevolutionarymilitantBlackmanhoodofthe present.ThefactthattheconstitutionofBlackgendercategorieswasatstakeinthesepolitical battleswasobscuredbythemorepressingproblemofchoosingapoliticalpath. By1967,inresponsetothiscultural andpolitical upheaval,HaroldCruseproclaimed

I

Blackintellectualstobeinfull-scalecrisis,inhisnow-classicpolemicCrisisoftheNegro Intellectual.WiththenotableexceptionofLorraineHansberry,whomhelambastedalongwith therestofhistargets,Cruse’sprocessionofNegroIntellectualswasallmale.Theyincluded Frederick Douglass, Martin R. Delany, Edward Blyden, Alexander Crummell, Henry M. Turner,GeorgeWashingtonWilliams,BookerT.Washington,MarcusGarvey,andW.E.B.Du Bois. 4 TheoverarchingnarrativeofcrisishasbeenasalientfeatureofBlackpoliticallifeatleast since DuBois beganservingas editor ofthe NAACPmagazine ofthe same name. This recoursetothenarrativeofBlackpoliticalcrisisfrequentlyobscuresanattendantupheaval overgenderpolitics,particularlyabroaddiscontentovertheopportunitiestopursuecertain kindsofrespectableracialmanhood.Consequently,resolutionstoBlackpoliticalcrisesare frequentlypursuedthroughtheinsistenceonprescribingtraditionalgenderrolesforBlack communities.Ebony,however,repackagedtheculturalcrisisoverracialmanhoodasacrisis overBlackfemininityandBlackwomanhood,obscuringthepoliticalstakesofthisbattlefor Blackmen.ThisrepackaginglaidtheresponsibilityforrectifyingthecrisisatthefeetofBlack womenwhosimplyneededtofigureouttheirroleandplayit. Thiskindofculturaldiscombobulationovertheroleofintellectualsinracialleadership dramatizesacontinuingcrisisofracialmanhood,andoftheconstructionofBlackgender identities more generally, that underwrites most of the major shifts in Black leadership throughoutthetwentiethcentury.However,Iamlessinterestedinwhatsuchdramasmeanfor BlackmenandmoreinterestedinthewaysthatBlackwomenrespondedtotheseaccusations. Inthis chapter, Iconsider how political movements, specificallyCivil Rights and Black Power,andBlackwomen’sresponsestothemhaveshapedtheintellectualgeographyofBlack thoughtandinfluencedtheintellectualgenealogiesthatarebequeathedtous.Throughclose readingsofarangeofculturaltexts—theEbonyarticle,thecivilrightsautobiographiesof AnnaArnoldHedgemanandPauliMurray,andToniCadeBambara’seditedvolumeBlack Woman—Imap the broad cultural debates aboutBlackwomen’s role inrace leadership. UnlikemorerecentworksinCivilRightsandBlackPowerStudiesthatareconcernedwith recoveringBlackwomen’scontributionstothestruggle,Iexaminethewaysthatdebatesover theconceptualcategoryoftheintellectualilluminethegenderpoliticsoftheshiftfromCivil Rights to BlackPower. These cultural anxieties over the meaningofthe intellectual also dovetailculturalanxietyaboutthewaysBlackmenandwomenperformedgenderidentity. Thus,suchdebatesrestageearliertwentieth-centurydebateswithinBlackcommunitiesand Blackorganizationsaboutthemeaningsofracewomanhoodandracemanhood. Because these debates were not merely tactical, Black women not only responded politicallybutalsointellectually,byconceptuallyreframingthetermsofracewomanhood.

ToniCadeBambara’sprefaceandessay,“OntheIssueofRoles,”inher1970book,Black

Woman,playedaleadroleinBlackwomen’sattemptstoarticulateacoherentnarrativeabout BlackfemaleidentityandBlackwomen’sleadershipagainsttheangst-riddenbackdropof Cruse’sproclamationofcrisis.Myexaminationrevealsthewaysinwhichbattlesoverrace leadershiparealwaysdeeplytiedtocontestationsovergenderanddemonstratesthatthese momentsofcultural upheaval frequentlyurgearefiguringofexistingcategoriesofgender withinBlackcommunities.

ThischapterconcludestheintellectualgenealogyandgeographyofBlackwomen’spublic intellectualworkthatIhavebeenmappingthroughoutBeyondRespectability.Iarguethatthe

kindsofBlackfeministintellectualprojectsthatemergeduringthe1970sare,byandlarge,

products of Black women’s public work rather than, for instance, traditional academic

theorizing.Bythe1980s,withtheascentofwomenlikeMaryHelenWashington,bellhooks,

Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Patricia Hill Collins, Black feminism moved solidly into the academy,benefitingfromanewlyavailableandunprecedentedsetofinstitutionalresources forBlackwomentoprofessionalizepublicintellectualwork.Buttheworkofliteraryand

creativeintellectualsinthe1970sretainedwhatFarahJasmineGriffinhascalledan“extra-

academic”tenorthatallowedforarangeofconversationsandcontestationsaboutthenatureof

Blackwomanhoodinthepublicsphere.

WeHaveaDream:TheMasculinistPoliticsoftheBigSix

Theonlywomantoserveonthe1963MarchonWashingtonforJobsandFreedomorganizing

committee,AnnaArnoldHedgemanwasareluctantBlackintellectual.In1933,Hedgemanwas

invited,aspartanewgenerationof“youngNegrointellectuals,”toJoelSpingarn’sSecond AmeniaConferenceinTroutbeck,NewYork. 5 Sherecalledbeingboth“flatteredanddisturbed to be called an intellectual because,” as she reflected, “my recent experience with the problemsofthemassesofpeoplemademefearwordswhichmightseparateus.” 6 Thougha fewwomenwereinvitedtoAmeniaII,shemostlyrememberedtheprominentmen:“Abram Harris, Charles H. Houston, RalphBunche, MarionCuthbert[a woman], WilliamHastie, JamesWeldonJohnson,WalterWhite,andW.E.B.DuBois.”Those“lastthree,”shenoted, “representedalinkwiththepast.”But“wehadideasofourown,however,andinsisted,as youthalways does, that the progress ofthe Negro had beentoo slow.” 7 Hedgemanwas especiallyenamoredoftheyoungeconomistAbramHarrisandhowhisapproachmighthelp BlackpeoplestrugglingtorecoverfromtheDepression.Shealsorecalledanexcited“Charles HamiltonHouston,freshfromAmherstandHarvard,[filled]withplansforthedevelopmentof theHowardUniversityLawSchool[who]wasdiscussingtheroleofthelawinthestrugglefor CivilRights.”Whattheycametoagreeonwasthat“increasedtrainingandspecializationof theNegrowouldhelphimmakenewopeningsforotherNegroes”…inparticular,“college graduates[with]specializedtrainingintheliberalartscouldbringnewstrength.” 8 Despiteher reservationsabouttheinherentelitismofbeingclassedamongthe“intellectuals,”Hedgeman supportedthebroadliberalvisionputforthbythe“YoungTurks”atAmeniaII. ThisliberalvisioninformedherworkasthefirstBlackwomantoserveonaNewYork mayoralcabinetundertheWagneradministrationinthe1950s. 9 Andinthe1960s,shewas

invitedbyA.PhilipRandolphtocompletetheworkshehadbegunwithhiminthe1940sin

NewYorkduringthefirstMarchonWashingtonMovement,whereshealsoworkedwitha youngPauli Murray. For the 1963 March, she teamed up withthe “BigSix”: A. Philip Randolph,RoyWilkins,MartinLutherKing,JamesFarmer,WhitneyYoung,andJohnLewis.

FIGURE6.AnnaArnoldHedgeman.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts Division,HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

FIGURE6.AnnaArnoldHedgeman.CourtesyofMoorlandSpingarnResearchCenter,Manuscripts

Division,HowardUniversity,WashingtonD.C.

However, one weekbefore the Marchshe realized that“no woman[was] listed as a speaker”ontheprogram.So“itwasproposedthatMr.Randolph,aschairman,wouldask severalNegrowomentostandwhilehereviewedthehistoricroleofNegrowomen,andthat thewomenwouldmerelytakeabowattheendofhispresentation.”Internally,shebalkedat thisdismissiveattempttosilenceBlackwomenbynotevenallowingthemtospeak,while claimingtocelebratethem.Shefoundit“significantthatnoteventherebelliousyouthleader [presumablyJohnLewis]thoughtoftherolewhichwomanhadplayedinthepresentphaseof the continuing Negro revolution.” 10 She thus marshaled her forces and sent a memo to Randolph:“InlightoftheroleofNegrowomeninthestruggleforfreedomandespeciallyin lightoftheextraburdentheyhavecarriedbecauseofthecastrationofourNegromaninthis culture,itisincrediblethatnowomanshouldappearasaspeakeratthehistoricMarchon

WashingtonMeetingattheLincolnMemorial.”Shewentontorequest“thataNegrowoman makeabriefstatementandpresenttheotherHeroinesjustasyouhavesuggestedthatthe Chairmanmightdo.” 11 Shesuggestedtwopotentialwomen:MyrlieEvers,widowofMedgar Evers, and Diane Nash Bevel. But the male organizers remained resistant about female participation.BecauseofconsistentadvocacyandagitationonthepartofHedgeman,Pauli Murray,andDorothyHeight,onthedayoftheMarch“DaisyBateswasaskedtosayafew words,”buteventhenA.PhilipRandolphlimitedhertimeatthemicrophone.Hedgemannoted that“Mrs.RosaParks,thecourageouswomanwhohadrefusedto‘movetothebackofthe bus,’inMontgomerywaspresented,butalmostcasually.” 12 Thatelicitedasharedknowing amongmanyofthewomenthere:“[W]egrinned;someofus,aswerecognizedanewthat Negro women are second-class citizens in the same way that white women are in our culture.” 13 Published in 1964 just one year after the March, Hedgeman’s “memoir of Negro leadership,”TrumpetSounds,actsasaninterventioninarecalcitrantmasculinistnarrativeof racialleadership.ThegenderpoliticsoftheMarchonWashingtondemonstratefirsthandthe waysinwhichthissymbolicshowoftheBlackfreedomstrugglewasinherentlygenderedand fraughtwithBlackmen’sowninvestmentsindominatingthedirectionofracialleadership.Not onlydidHedgemancalltheCivilRightsestablishmentpubliclytotask,butshealsotook specificaimatKing.SheacknowledgedthatKing’s“speechonthatdayhasbeenreprintedand sentacrosstheworld,forallmenunderstandthe‘dream.’” 14 Asheaddressedthecrowd,King remindedher ofPresidentJohnF.Kennedy.“Bothofthese youngmen,” she wrote,“had somehowseemedtodetachthemselvesfromallsenseoftheirownrelationshiptothepast. PresidentKennedyhad done itwithhis announcementthatthe younger generationwould establishthenewfrontierandMartinLutherKinghadseemedtobringthesamemessagewith hisbeautifullypoeticdescriptionofhisdream.”Inscribedinherownwordsonherprogram fromJFK’sinauguration,shehadwritten“DearMr.Kennedy,yourdreamofanewfrontieris boundupinthedreamsofallmenwhohavehadavisionbeyondthemoment;avisionofsome menintheworldsensethebeginningoftime.”She“wanteddesperatelytosaythesesame

wordstoMartinLutherKing,standinginfrontof250,000peoplewhohadcometoWashington

becausetheyhadadream.”“Inthefaceofallthemenandwomenofthepastwhohave dreamedinvain,IwishedverymuchthatMartinhadsaid,‘Wehaveadream.’” 15 AcutelyawareofthemultigenerationalnatureoftheBlackfreedomstruggle,Hedgeman pointedtothewaysthatthepoliticsofKing’sdreamwerepredicatedonanactiveerasureof longhistories of collective Blackdissent. While the MarchonWashingtonhas come to symbolizethemomentwhenKingdonnedhisroleasofficial“charismaticleader”oftheBlack freedomstruggle,Hedgemanwasneitherswayednorseducedbyhischarismaticmasculinism. EricaEdwardspowerfullyarguesthat

[c]harismais foundedinthreeforms ofviolence:thehistoricalor historiographicalviolenceofreducinga heterogeneousBlackfreedomstruggletoatop-downnarrativeofGreatManleadership;thesocialviolenceof performing social change in the form of a fundamentally antidemocratic form of authority; and the epistemological violence of structuring knowledge of Black political subjectivity and movement within a genderedhierarchyofpoliticalvaluethatgrantsuninterrogatedpowertonormativemasculinity. 16

Hedgeman’sresistancetothecharismaticracemanleadershipmodelpersonifiedbytheBig Sixexposesallthatiswrongwiththepredominatingforceofcharisma.Ontheonehand,The March exemplified magnificently what I term the black radical spectacular, wherein Blackness and blackradical politics are placed onspectacular displayand deployed for radically disruptive and productive ends. When a spectacle is being politicized to call attentiontoinjustice,thecharismaofthosewhospeakforthecrowdisimportantforpolitical efficacy.Onthe other hand,this momentreinscribedthe subordinationofBlackwomen’s politicalissuestothemorepressingconcernsofaBlackmale-centeredliberationnarrative. InlinewithEdwards’sobservations,Hedgeman’smemoirresistsboththehistoricaland historiographicalattemptofBlackmen,literallyandfiguratively,towriteBlackwomenoutof the storyand make themmerelyornamental onstage;itexposes the power-ladengender relationshipsthatinformedthemostsymbolicofallBlackmarches;anditdemonstratesthe ways inwhichwomenattendingthe Marchwereattunedintheimmediate momenttothe gendered hierarchy they witnessed. Hedgeman presciently connected Black women’s marginalizationwithintheMarchtotheburgeoningwhitefeministmovement,aconnectionthat would not resound fullyfor Blackwomenuntil later inthe decade. Therefore, her race leadershipmemoirisanimportantsiteinBlackwomen’sintellectualgeographybecauseit contestsandmakesquiteplainthefictive,yetviolent,natureofaccountsofBlackleadership builtuponrecoursetothemostcharismatic,well-knownBlackleadershipfigures.Thatall thesethingswereapparenttoHedgeman,andthatshethenfoughtbackbytellingherownstory ofBlackpoliticalbelonging,addsyetanotherdimensiontothestoryoftwentieth-centuryBlack politicalleadership.ThoughHedgeman’sbookwascalledTrumpetSounds,herbuglecalls wentlargelyunnoticed.Herbookforetoldanapproachingproblem:HowwouldBlackmen makespaceforBlackwomenwithintheboundsofracialleadership?ThoughHedgemantried tointervene,sheconfrontedadeepculturalresistancetoevenacknowledgingBlackwomen’s intellectualcapacityandcontributiontodiscussionsofmovementbuilding.

TheNegroWomanIntellectualasProblem

Ponchitta Pierce’s Ebony article, whichappeared justtwo years after Hedgeman’s book, provides compellinginsightinto how Blackcommunities thoughtaboutintellectual Black womenattheheightoftheCivilRightsera.First,thearticleisentitled“ProblemsoftheNegro WomanIntellectual,”thoughitmightjustaseasilyhavebeentitled“TheProblemoftheNegro Woman Intellectual.” In a late-twentieth-century remix to Du Bois, the magazine article essentiallyaskedofBlackwomenintellectuals,“Howdoesitfeeltobeaproblem?”The designationofBlackwomenasintellectualswassoperplexingastoconstituteaconceptual anomaly.Bywayofcomparison,acontentanalysisoftherestofthisspecialissueonwomen revealsthatintherangeofarticlesthatprofiledwomeninthearts,politics,andentertainment, thisarticleistheonlyoneintheissuethatconstructeditstitularcategoryandsubjectmatteras “aproblem.” GwendolynBrooks,interviewedforthearticle,assertedthatthoughthereweremanyBlack womenwhomwemightcall“brightorbrilliant,productive,effective,intelligent,creative, eminent,discerning,distinguished…therighttosuchadjectives[wouldnot]automatically

entitlethemtothesecurityalsoofthetitle,‘intellectual.’Thatissomethingelse.” 17 Atface value,herfinaldeclarationthat“intellectual”was“somethingelse”effectivelysuggestedthat an intellectual is something else other than a Black woman—that no matter how many commendabletraitsaBlackwomanmightpossess,beinganintellectualwasafeatjustbeyond her reach. It is unsurprising then that Brooks excluded herself from the designation of “intellectual”aswell. ToreadslightlyagainstthegrainofBrooks’ssentiment,Iwouldsuggestthatthereisalso anothermomentofpossibilityinthespaceofthe“somethingelse.”Isaythis,notwhollyin termsofanotionoftheOther,butintermsoftheculturalvernacularsbywhichtheSouthern Black communities of my youth might say to a young woman who was audacious, and unapologeticallyself-possessed,“Girl,youaresomethingelse!”Tobeanintellectualistobe “somethingelse.”Blackwomenare“somethingelse!”Itisthatspaceofpossibility,thatunique Blackwomen’scultural conceptualizationofthe“somethingelse”asaformofenergized, audacious,vivifyingengagementwiththeworld,thatcan,ifweletit,animateconceptionsof theBlackwomanintellectual. Likehernineteenth-centuryforebears,BrookstheninvokedthepracticeoflistingthatI discussedintheintroduction,apracticeinwhichBlackwomennamethenamesofotherBlack womenthataredoingtheworkasawaytoresisthistoriographicalsilencing.Brooks’slist included just five women whom she considered intellectuals: novelist Paule Marshall, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, journalist and memoirist Era Bell Thompson, poet and professorMargaretWalker,andeducatorandauthorMargaretJustButcher.Brooks’sparsing ofthetermintellectualechoedFrederickDouglass’sparsingofthetermfamous”backin

1892,whenhecautionedMonroeMajor,“[W]ehavemanyestimablewomenofourvarietybut

notmanyfamous ones. … Manyofthe names youhave are those ofadmirable persons, cultivated,refined,andladylike.Butitdoesnotfollowthattheyarefamous.Letusbetrueand uselanguagefaithfully.” 18 Therighttosimplyevenbecalledintellectualwasahard-fought battle. Brooks’sreluctancetoclassifyanyBlackwomenasintellectualsleftPiercewiththetaskof creatingsome kind of classificatoryschema for definingBlackwomenintellectuals. She formulatedacontinuumwithfourtypesofintellectuals.Thewomanatthepureendofthe continuumwas a “womanwhose primary commitment is the searchfor knowledge. She delightsinintellectualactivity.…‘Shedoesn’tflirtwithorcourtideas,shemarriesthem.’” 19 Thiswomanisolatedherselfinpursuitofideas.YetPiercenoted,“fewNegrowomen,ifany, knowsuchexperience.”Blackwomenrarelyhavehadtheluxuryofsolelypursuingthelifeof themindandinsteadareexpected—compelledeven—tomaketheirideas“functionaltoaidin thesocialrevolutionoftheNegro.” 20 This,then,necessitatedasecondtypeofintellectual, “whom circumstances have thrust into the limelight.” She had certain characteristics:

“morality, creative vision, objectivity-integrity and a disciplined mind.” As secondary characteristics, she should have “wit, urbanity, sound education, grasp ofthe humanities, appreciationofthearts,travel background.Sheisalsoexpectedtobeaction-oriented,to translate the ideas she creates into practical, socially useful programs.” 21 This type of intellectualconstitutedthequintessentialdefinitionofapublicintellectual.

Therewasalsoathirdtype,“awoman,who,whilenotrefinedbyasolideducationand sufficientexposuretoculture,oftenbecauseofpoverty,moreoftenbecauseofsegregation, doeshaveanincisiveandcriticalmindandacertainstrengthofconvictionwhichmakesher willingtoliveforherideasratherthanonthem.Herwholelifeisoneofideas,[but]sheacts themoutratherthanwritingthemdown.”FannieLouHamerisanexemplarofthistypeofwhat wemayterm,apragmaticintellectual.Thepseudointellectual,“whospendsmoretimetalking than thinking, who spews out clichés and commonplaces, rather than ideas,” bookended Pierce’sspectrum. 22 She also used the work of famed scholar Richard Hofstadter to distinguish between intelligenceandintellect:“Intellectisthecritical,creativeandcontemplativesideofmind. Whereasintelligenceseekstograsp,manipulate,reorder,adjust,intellectexamines,ponders, wonders,theorizes,criticizes,imagines.Intelligencewillseizetheimmediatemeaningina situation and evaluate it. Intellect evaluates evaluations, and looks for the meanings in situationsasawhole.” 23 Onewoman,MaryTurner,quotedinthearticlesuggested:“[T]he intellectualbringsanothercapacitybesidesmemoryandlearningtothefieldofknowledge. Shemustcreateentirelynewelements.” 24 Andfinally,PiercereturnedtoGwendolynBrooks, whosaid,“[A]nintellectualisonewhoobservesand/orclawsoutfactsandideas,worries them, turns theminside out, assembles them, relates them, and—on the highest level— enhancesornourishesthem.” 25 Rangingfrompure,topublic,topragmatic,topseudo,Pierce imaginedafarmoredynamicworldofpossibilitiesforBlackwomenintellectualsthanother Blackthinkershadmanagedtodo. Certainly,Blackwomenhaveworriedideas,turnedtheminsideout,andenhancedand nourishedtheconstellationoftermsthatshapehowwethinkaboutcontemporaryBlacklife. ButevenifNegrowomenintellectualscouldbefound,andthis,itappears,wasdebatable,they facedage-oldproblems,theprimaryonebeing(apparently):Whowouldmarrythem?Justas AnnaJuliaCooper,IdaB.Wells,MaryChurchTerrell,andPauliMurrayhaddoneatsome pointintheircareers,PiercehadtograpplewiththeeffectofBlackmarriagepoliticsonBlack women’sintellectualwork.Inasectionofthearticle,reminiscentofMurray’s“WhyNegro Girls Stay Single,” interviewee Mary Turner lamented the tendency of Black women intellectualstomarry“beneaththeirintellectuallevels.”Atthesametime,however,sheargued that“intellectualismshouldnotbeanexcuseforignoringcareofthefamily.”Inherestimation, husbandsandwivesshouldnegotiatethesechallengessuchthat“inthecaseofanyworking woman,thehusbandshouldbewillingtopitchinwhereneeded,withoutregardingeacheffort asathreattohismasculinity.” 26 Ifalleffortsatfindingasuitablematefailed,Blackwomen, Pierceargued,couldpursuearangeofotheroutlets:“Shemayturntoanotherrace,often givingmorethanshereceives.Shemaywindupwitha‘shadow’husbandwho,whilenother equal,atleastdoesn’timpedeherprogress.…Failinginanyoftheabove,theNegrowoman generallydecidestobypassmarriagecompletely(bybecomingLesbianorcelibate)ortotake alover.” 27 Despite Pierce’s assumptionthatheterosexual,companionate marriage was the desiredendfor all professional,intellectual women,shedoesatleastgesturetowardthe possibilityofotherintimatearrangements.Thattheprivatelivesofintellectualwomenwere evenupforsuchscrutinyindicatestheextenttowhichBlackwomen’sbodieswerefully

conscriptedforracialservice,andtheirintimatelivessubjecttoracialpolicingandcultural disciplining. Infact,despitealargelypositivereceptionoftheNegroWomanspecialissuefromboth

maleandfemalereadersofEbony,onemalereaderwroteanangryletterintheOctober1966

issue:

AsIsithereinmymatriarchalhome(fatherdeceased)awaitingadivorcefrommypotentiallypower-madwife of four months, Istarted reading the special issue of the August, 1966 edition of Ebonyfeaturing Negro Women.IwillnotarguethepointthatNegroesarewheretheyarenowprimarilybecauseoftheeffortsof Negrowomen,sinceNegroesarestillnowhere.…WhentheNegrowomanrealizesthatrealprogresswill comeonlywhenshedecidestogetinbehindherNegroman,andnotontopofhim,freedomwillcomeina matterofyearsandnotinhundredsofyears. 28

Thisclearlydevastatedreaderblamedthedissolutionofhismarriageonhiswife’sfailureto performsociallyprescribed gender roles, a phenomenonthat he suggested also militated againstthebroaderBlackfreedomstruggle.Onewomanquotedinthearticlementionedthat “potentialsuitors…alsorebuked[her]forbeingmoreintellectualthanemotional.” 29 Inmany ways, then, highachievingBlackwomenthreatened and upended traditional gender role ideology,creatingculturalanxietyaboutproperperformancesofmasculinityandfemininity andchallengesforthemselvesinintimatecontexts.AsBrooksnoted,“Itishardfortheworld tobelievethatafemaleiscapableofthought.Thatshemaypossessanexcellentbrainisoften unpalatable,sometimesafrighteningandinfuriating,distraction.Andthebrain-ownerherself is steadily interrupted by demands on other parts of her body.” 30 Brooks implicitly acknowledgedtheembodiednatureofintellectualwork,arguingthattheculturalresistanceto allowingBlackwomentobecomefullyformedintellectualshappenslargelyupontheground ofexactingotherkindsofbodilylaborfromthem.Thiswasnotmerelyracialdiscrimination, but“anotherkindofdiscrimination—thatofsex.” 31 Piercearguedthatthiscontinualonslaughtofnegativerepercussionstowardintellectual Blackwomenproducedasenseofdefensivenessandaggressivenessandasetofcultural perceptionsthatcauseBlackwomen’sperformanceofgenderandfemininitytobeasourceof culturalanxiety(andpolicing).Asonecommenterinthearticleputit,“Idon’tknowifsheis awareofit,butshetendstobeneither masculinenor feminine.” 32 For some, intellectual pursuits made Black women’s gender identities illegible. Moreover, many Black people perceivedthepursuitofintellectualismasadirectaffronttothegenderedgoalsoftheproject ofrespectability,whichimplicitlytookasagoalthefeminizingofBlackwomanhoodinways thatmadeBlackwomenlegibleasladiesworthyofprotectioninthepublicsphere. Blackwomen’sintellectualpursuitsproducedakindofculturalalienationinwhich“the educatedNegrointellectualfacedwithagapbetweenherself,theworldofintellectualismand theNegrocommunity”couldneverfullygohomeagain:“[T]hewomanreturnshomefrom collegeandfindsherselfalienatedfromherhomeculture.”DespitewhatStephanieShawhas called the carefullycultivated “ethic of sociallyresponsible individualism” 33 instilled in Blackwomensincetheirearliestdaysofeducationalaccess,bythemiddleofthetwentieth century,Blackwomenhadtolearnhowtonegotiatethisaccessinthecontextofcommunities uncomfortable—notonlywiththe elite access thateducationhad provided butalso with

apparent gender performances that could not be culturallyapprehended. Battles over the meaninganddefinitionoftheintellectualnecessarilyimplicatedanongoingBlackcultural projectofconstructingandreconstructingBlackgenderidentity.JustasPaulineHopkinshad

laidoutthe“duties”ofthe“true-racewoman”in1902,EbonymadeclearthedutiesofBlack

womenintellectualsinthe1960s:“[N]egrowomenintellectualssharetworesponsibilities:to

reallybeanintellectual(althoughshemaynoteatwell,havefriendsandbecreditedwith loose screws) and to help shape a new definitionoffemininity.” Muchas MaryChurch Terrell’s college pals believed that taking the gentlemen’s course would make her “unwomanly,” nearly a century later, Black communities still worried about whether intellectual workwoulddegradethecarefullycraftedmeanings ofBlackwomanhoodand femininitythattheNACWSchoolhadfoughtsohardtoinscribewithinBlackcommunities. BlackwomenintellectualslikePauliMurrayandToniCadeBambaratookonthesebattlesfor anewgeneration.

TheApostlesofBlackConsciousnessandtheBattleforBlackStudies

MurraywasoneoftheNegrowomenintellectualsfeaturedinPierce’sEbonyarticle.In1965,

shebecamethefirstBlackwomantoreceivetheDoctorofJuridicalSciencedegreefromthe YaleSchoolofLaw.ShehadalsoservedononeofthesubcommitteesofJohnF.Kennedy’s

President’sCommissionontheStatusofWomen.In1969,Murraywasinherfirstyearas

professorofAmericanStudiesatBrandeis.HertimeatBrandeiscoincidedwiththe1969

studenttakeoverofthecampusaspartofapushforaBlackStudiescurriculum.Shehadbeen recruited, inpart, because ofher activistbackground and the administration’s hopes that studentswouldviewthehiringofMurrayasanolivebranchintheirstrugglestoinstitutea BlackStudies curriculum. Inthat position, she was forced to directlyconfront her deep ambivalenceaboutthetacticsandgoalsoftheBlackPowerMovement.Asshewrote,her “loyalties were divided betweenprofessional integrityand racial sympathy.” Murrayfelt “light-years apart” fromher students who “were engaged in a collective search for an acceptableidentity,whichtooktheformofprideinBlackness.” 34 AsIdemonstratedinchapter three,Murray’sconcernsoverraceactedassurrogatediscourseforherconcernsovergender politicswithinBlackcommunities.Thus,whather timeatBrandeisrevealsisnotonlya resistancetotheracialpoliticsofBlackPowerbutalsoitsgenderpolitics. WhereasMurray’smilitantdescendants,whomshereferredtoinpersonalcorrespondence asthe“apostlesofBlackconsciousness,”affirmedtheiridentitybyanallegiancetoBlackness, Murraywrites,“Ihadchosentoaffirmmyidentitybyanchoringmyselffirmlyintheimmediate Americanpast,whichhadproducedmymixedracialorigins.…‘Blackisbeautiful’hadno personalmeaningforme.IhadcometoappreciatethebeautyofAmericanNegroesinalltheir rich variety of features, hair texture, and skin tone … revealing the harmonious genetic blendingofseveralraces.” 35 Moreover,Murraywrites:

Mystrongindividualism workedagainsttendencies towardatoostrongalliancewitharacialgrouptothe exclusionofothersnotsoidentified.…Tothrive,Ineedasocietyhospitabletoallcomers—Blackaswellas white,womenaswellasmen,“thelame,thehalt,theblind,”thebrownsandyellowsandreds—asocietyin whichindividualswerefreetoexpresstheirmultipleoriginsandtosharetheirvarietyofculturalstrainswithout

beingforcedintoacategoricalmold. 36

Althoughtheymighthaveappreciatedherideals,Murray’sstudentsresentedherchoiceto “anchor herselffirmlyinthe Americanpast,” and theytreated her like the relic thatshe unwittinglyproclaimedherselftobe.OnestudentevenkeptatallyduringMurray’slecturesof howoftensheused“Negro”versus“Black.” Herinsistenceonintegrationism,asthetidesamongBlackyouthturnedtowardnationalist aims,madeMurraysummarilyineffectiveatnegotiatingtheincreasinglyhostileracialcampus

climateatBrandeisin1969.Oneofherprizedpupils,aseniorhonorsstudentnamedPatricia

Hill, boldlywalked out of class, yelling“Blacksolidarity,” as the campus erupted into widespreadprotestoverthebattletoadoptaBlackstudiescurriculumin1969. 37 InMurray’s view,this“newphaseofthestruggle…confusedanddistortedtheearliergoals”that“had beenmoreuniversal,emphasizingtheinternationalsolidarityoftheworkingclasses,theracial componentofwhichhadbeenafireburningundergroundwithonlyanoccasionalspurtof smokeandflamebecomingvisible.” 38

In1942,Murrayhadwrittenapassionatearticleentitled“NegroYouth’sDilemma”that

capturedalltheangstandangerthatcharacterizedtheyoungupstartsofhergeneration.Initshe asked, “Am I to forget the festering sores of racial intolerance, injustice, brutality and humiliationeatingatthecoreofmynationalallegiance?”Inresponsetothecriticswhofeltthat Blackpeopleshould“fightawhiteman’swar”(WWII),Murrayriposted,“[P]erhapsweare foolishinnotrealizingthatHitlerismwoulddestroyusutterlywhileourfellowcitizensin Sikeston,Missouri,wouldmerelyburnafewofuseachyear.Butmenwhoconfrontdeathand womenwhosee the frustrations oftheir youthcannotbe expectedtodistinguishbetween brutalities.” 39 Murrayhadbeenattunedtothe“theimpatienceofyoungpeople,thedesirefor action, whether or not they are informed and trained.” 40 But she became increasingly bewildered,intimidated,andangeredbythisyouthfulimpatienceduringitsseconditerationin

the1960sand’70s.NotonlydidtheseparatistrhetoricofBlackPower“grateupon[her]

sensibilities,”shewrote,butsheliterallyfeltthatshewas“livinginaworldturnedupside down[with] acompletereversal ofthegoalsthathadfiredher ownstudentactivism.” 41 Murray’snarrativeofBlackfemalesubjectivityandherpoliticalallegianceswerepredicated uponaveryparticularnotionofNegroorBlackracialidentity,whichforegroundedthemixed racialheritageandAmericanvaluesandaspirationsofpeopleofcolor.Inthisrespect,her moreassimilationistvaluesfoundherembracingandreinscribingthepoliticsofrespectability foralatergeneration,ratherthanresistingit,asshehaddoneearlier.Atthebottomofacopy of“NegroYouth’sDilemma,”MurraymusedduringhertimeatBrandeisonhergeneration’s responsetoanewgenerationofdiscontentedyouth,wonderingwhat,ifanything,theycould saytoyoungpeoplewhenconditionshadchangedsolittle. 42 Murray’sclassroomatBrandeis—averitablebattlegroundwithinthespaceoftheuniversity betweentwodifferentgenerationalapproachestotheBlackfreedomstruggle—servesasan important site for mapping the intellectual geography and genealogy of Black feminist intellectualwork.HerstudentPatriciaHill,whomweknowtodayasBlackfeministscholar PatriciaHillCollins,deeplyimpactedMurraythroughherrejectionofMurray’soutmoded racial conservatism. Murray saw herself within the liberal civil rights traditions, which

exemplifiedthekindofproper,dignifiedagitationofpeoplelikeMaryChurchTerrell.Patricia Hill represented a new school ofthoughtaltogether. For us, the schismbetweenthe two women,thatis,Hill’sclearrejectionofMurray’sracepolitics,indicatethatracewomen intellectualsdidnotmerelycontendwithgenderpolitics.Theyalsohaddifferingideasabout racialidentitythatinformedtheirapproachestocombatingracismandtotheintellectualwork ofstudyingBlackpeople.Atthesametime,thisconflictconnectsinaliteral,embodiedway theacademicoriginsofBlackfeminismtothelargerprojectofBlackStudies.Thisbattlein Murray’sclassroomatBrandeisbringsusbacktotheinitialsetofconcernsthathavedriven thisbook.Theirbattlesdemonstratethewaysinwhichthecategoriesofgenderandraceare imbricatedbytheinstitutionalstateofracialknowledgeproduction. AsMurraywouldcometowritejustoneyearlaterinheressay,“TheLiberationofBlack Women”:“[R]eadingthroughmuchofthecurrentliteratureontheblackrevolution,oneisleft withtheimpressionthatforalltherhetoricaboutself-determination,themainthrustofblack militancyisabidofblackmalestosharepowerwithwhitemalesinacontinuingpatriarchal societyinwhichbothblackandwhitefemalesarerelegatedtosecondarystatus.”Thoughshe did notfullyarticulate her concerns in1969, by1970, her later critique made clear the politicalstakesofthemasculinismoftheBlackPowerMovement.Inthatregard,shehelpedto clarifyoneofthemajorcritiquesofBlackPowerthatprecipitatedthedevelopmentofaclearly articulatedBlackfeministpoliticalstanceintheensuingyears,asarticulatedbygroupslikethe National Black Feminist Organization and the Combahee River Collective, and by self- described“culturalworkers”likeToniCadeBambara.

TheNegroWomanandRevolutionaryPossibility

ToniCadeBambaratookupthepoliticsofrevolution,family,andknowledgeproductionwith

decidedlylessambivalencethanMurray.Her1970collectionofessays,poetry,andcultural

criticism, Black Woman, offered a resounding response to the cultural and intellectual discombobulationthathadframedtheworksofPierceandCruse.ExemplaryofBrooks’s definitionofaNegrowomanintellectual,“whoobservesand/orclawsoutfactsandideas, worriesthem,turnstheminsideout,assemblesthem,relatesthem,and—onthehighestlevel— enhances or nourishes them,” Bambara and her colleagues considered a range of issues relevant to Black women’s lives, turning them inside out, interrogating their relevance, discardingtheideasthatwerenotuseful,andofferinganewsetofconceptualframesfor thinkingandwritingaboutBlackwomen’slivesandorganizingforBlackliberation.Bambara andher comradesdidnotseeBlackwomen’slivesthroughtheframeworkofaproblem. Rather,likeCooper,theylookedatBlackwomen’slivesandtheirembodiedexperienceasa spaceofpossibility. The year 1970 was auspicious in terms of increasing Black women’s cultural and intellectuallegibility.WiththepublicationoffirstnovelsbyAliceWalkerandToniMorrison, MayaAngelou’spublicationofIKnowWhytheCagedBirdSings,theposthumouseditingand publicationofIdaB.Wells’sautobiography,CrusadeforJustice,andthelaunchofEssence Magazine,BlackwomencreatedaveritableBlackwomen’sliteraryrenaissance.Echoingthe

creativeliteraryandpoliticalfermentoftheearly1890s,thesewomenchallengedexisting

institutionalcategoriesofknowledgeproduction,stormingthegatesandmakingawayfor themselves.Atthesametime,theplacingofAngelaDavisontheFBI’sTenMostWantedList madecleartheviolentmaterialconditionsthatBlackwomenfacedandtheconsequencesof havingBlackradicalpolitics.Bambara’stextenteredintoaculturalmomenteagertoarticulate and celebrate the multiplicity of Black women’s lives. But the clarity that animates the intellectualprojectofBlackWomanshouldbeseenasacorrectivetothecrisisnarrativethat HaroldCrusepropagatedinCrisisoftheNegroIntellectual.AsherforebearslikeWilliams andTerrellandVictoriaEarleMatthewshaddone,Bambara’sintroductiontoBlackWoman laidoutanambitiousplanofstudyaboutBlackwomen’slives,whiletheessayspressedthe caseforavibrant,burgeoning,politicallyinformed,andculturallyconsciousBlackwomen’s movement. BeverlyGuy-Sheftallhaswrittenaboutherincredulityatthefactthatithadnever“occurred to Cruse thata comprehensive discussionofBlackintellectuals should nothave beenan exclusivelymalediscourse.” 43 InadditiontoCruse’segregiousoversight,scholarsofBlack intellectualhistoryhavealsoplacedCruse’sworkwithinthetraditionoflandmarkBlacktexts including“DuBois’sTheSoulsofBlackFolk,AlainLocke’sTheNewNegro,Carter G. Woodson’sTheMis-EducationoftheNegro,andE.FranklinFrazier’sBlackBourgeoisie.” 44 TheproblemisthatallofthesetextswerewrittenbyBlackmen. BlackWomandisruptsthisall-maleintellectualfraternityoftextsbothbysignalingasetof pastpracticesandbymarshalinginanintellectualfutureforBlackwomen.Proclaimingfrom thefirstlineofthepreface,“[W]eareinvolvedinastruggleforliberation,”Bambaragoeson toclarifythatthe“firstjobistofindoutwhatliberationforourselvesmeans,whatworkit entails,whatbenefitsitwill yield.”“Todothat,”Blackwomenofteninitiallyturned“to variousfieldsofstudiestoextractmaterials,datanecessarytodefinethatterminrespectto ourselves.” However, their searches yielded little information. Muchlike Fannie Barrier

Williamshadrecognizedin1893,Bambaraandhercontributors“note[d],however,alltoo

quickly the lack of relevant material.” 45 Psychiatry as a field continued to prescribe conservativedefinitionsofwomanhoodandgenderandtoreducethequestforliberationtothe freedomofwomen“toenjoyorgasm.”Moreover,muchoftheresearchonBlackpeopletended to“clumpthemenandwomentogetherandfocussoheavilyonwhatwhitepeoplehavedone tothepsychesofBlacks,thatwhatBlackshavedonetoandforthemselvesisoverlooked,and whatdistinguishesthemenfromthewomenforgotten.” 46 Inshort,onemajorproblemwasthat“‘theexperts’arestillmen,Blackorwhite.Andthe images ofthe womanare still derivedfromtheir needs,their fantasies,their secondhand knowledge,theiragreementwithother‘experts.’”Anditremaineduncleartowhatextentthe workofthefewwhitewomenexpertswouldbeapplicabletoBlackwomen:“[H]owrelevant arethetruths,theexperiences,thefindingsofwhitewomentoBlackwomen?Arewomenafter allsimplywomen?Idon’tknowthatourprioritiesarethesame,thatourconcernsandmethods arethesame,orevensimilarenoughsothatwecanaffordtodependonthisnewfieldof experts(white,female).” 47 Contestingtheideaofthe“expert”wascriticaltomakingspacefor Blackwomenas intellectuals and combatingdecades of epistemic subjugation. Bambara workedfromthepremisethatBlackwomen’sexperiences,andtheirabilitytoarticulatethem,

trumpedquestionableformsofexternal“expertise.”Sheconcluded,likethewomenofthe NACWhad done over three-quarters of a centuryearlier, that Blackwomenmust study themselves. Andtheyhadbeen“formingwork-studygroups,discussionclubs,cooperativenurseries, cooperative businesses, … women’s caucuses within existing organizations, [and] Afro- Americanwomen’smagazines”withthegoalofstudyingandmakinglegiblevariouskindsof Blackfemaleselfhoods.BycelebratingtheprofusionofcommunityspacesinwhichBlack womenwereconductingselfstudy,Bambararesistedatop-downaccountofracialknowledge production,demonstratingarangeofhorizontalspacesinwhichBlackwomenwerecoming togethertomakesenseoftheirownlives.LiketheClubera,thesecommunity-basedspaces, whereinBlackwomenproducedknowledgeaboutthemselves,constitutedakindofBlack femalecounter-publicspacethatallowedBlackwomentocontestofficial,dominantnarratives thatunderminedthemmorally,intellectually,andpolitically.However,unliketheclubwomen, Bambaradidnotseektobringthesegroupsunderanorganizationalumbrella.Instead,shetook amoretraditional discursiveapproach,producingananthologyofwritingsthroughwhich Blackwomencouldtestifytotheirembodiedexperiences.FarahJasmineGriffinnotesthatthe multiplicityofvoicesinthistext,thedialoguesbetweenarangeofdifferentlysituatedBlack women,is one ofthe mostremarkable features ofBlackWoman: “[I]ts chorus ofvoices remindsusoftheextra-academicoriginsofblackwomen’sintellectualworkandofitsconcern withsomethingotherthancurriculum,canons,fields,careersandacademicpublication.And whiletheacademyiscertainlyanimportantsiteofstruggle,itisnottheonlyplacewhere sociallyandpoliticallyengagedintellectualsoughttofindthemselves.” 48 Inshort,thetext remindsusthatwithinBlackwomen’sintellectualhistory,“thesitesofintellectualworkare alwaysshifting.” 49 Theextra-academicnatureofthetextanditswillingnesstoofferarangeof perspectives—bothfeministandnonfeminist,nationalistandantinationalist—withinitspages offersadiscursiverepresentationofarobustBlackwomen’spublicsphere.Moreover,it demonstratesinpracticethatBlackwomen’sknowledgeproductionisnotbeholdentothe academy.Bydrawingontheworksofarangeofwomentoconstituteheranthology,Bambara offeredarobustmodelforwhatBlackwomen’spublicintellectualworklookedlike. Her textalso marked one ofthe clearestgenerational shifts inthe rhetoric aboutrace womanhood. She noted that “unlike the traditional sororities and business clubs,” her contributors“[seemed]tousetheBlackLiberationstruggleratherthantheAmericanDreamas theiryardstick,theirgauge,theirvantagepoint.” 50 Thisrepresentedamarkedshiftfromthe rhetoric of liberal race women like Williams and Murray, whose lives bookend the paradigmaticframeofAmericanpeculiarityasacritiqueofAmericanexceptionalism.Unlike Murray,whoseprimaryquestwasforAmericanacceptance,Bambara’sracewomenused Blackfreedomasthemeasuringstickfordeterminingracialprogress,notingthat,infact,these twoidealswerenotcongruent.Moreover,thetextualdebatebetweenBlacknationalistwomen andBlackfeministwomenchallengedthedistinctiveintegrationistversusnationalistbinary thatCrusehadsetforthinCrisis. 51

Ironically,however,themajorgainsmadebyBlackwomeninpoliticsinthe1970ssignals

thatpublicBlackwomen,infact,wereusingtheAmericanDreamasayardstick.In1972,

ShirleyChisholmranforpresidentontheDemocraticPartyticket.Thatsameyear,Barbara Jordan was elected to the House of Representatives, becoming the first woman ever to

representthestateofTexas.Bythemid1970s,BarbaraJordanbecameakindofguardianof

thepublictrust.Herwell-knowneloquentspeechinthewakeoftheWatergatescandalandher keynote address at the 1976 Democratic convention relied upon the most traditional of Americanliberalvalues.IndefenseofNixon’simpeachmentandtheU.S.Constitution,which shefelthiscrimeshadundermined,Jordanfamouslydeclared:

Earlier today, weheardthebeginningof thePreambletotheConstitutionof theUnitedStates, “We, the people.” It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth of September1787Iwas notincludedinthat“We,thepeople.”Ifeltsomehowformanyyears thatGeorge WashingtonandAlexanderHamiltonjustleftmeoutbymistake.Butthroughtheprocess ofamendment, interpretationandcourtdecisionIhavefinallybeenincludedin“We,thepeople.”…MyfaithintheConstitution iswhole,itiscomplete,itistotal. 52

Jordan’srhetoricwasdecidedlycentristandsteepedinakindofAmericancivicnationalism thathascharacterizedBlackwomen’spublicthoughtforaslongastheyhavehadaccesstothe publicstage.However,Jordan’swordsalsosignaledadifferentmoment,oneinwhichBlack womenwereaskedtostepintothenationalimaginaryasakeeperofthepublictrustandan arbiterofthenation’smoralconsciousness. ShirleyChisholm’srhetoricwasverydifferent.Thoughhercommitmenttoelectoralpolitics placedhersolidlywithintheliberaldemocratictradition,herspeecheswerepepperedwith

rhetoricfromtheradicalBlackwomenthatToniCadeBambarahighlighted.Ata1974speech

foraconferenceonBlackwomeninAmerica,ChisholmarguedthatBlackwomenlike“Ida Wells[who]kepthernewspaperfreebywalkingthestreetsofMemphis,Tennesseeinthe

1890swithtwopistolsonherhips”andotherwomenlike“MaryMcLeodBethune,Mary

ChurchTerrell,DaisyBates,andDianeNash”hadplayed“acrucialroleinthetotalfightfor thefreedomofthisnation.” 53 Inthesamespeech,shequotedfromFrancesBeale’sessay, “Double Jeopardy,” whichappeared inBlackWoman. And then, as if echoingBambara, Chisholmaverred:

It is very interesting to note that everyone—with the exception of the Black woman herself—has been interpretingtheblackwoman.Itisveryinterestingtonotethatthetimehascomethatblackwomencanand must no longer be passive, complacent recipients of whatever the definitions of the sociologists, the psychologists and the psychiatrists will give to us. Black women have been maligned, misunderstood, misinterpreted—whoknowsbetterthanShirleyChisholm? 54

Chisholmencouragedheraudiencenottoacceptthisstateofaffairsbut“tostandupandbe counted.”Inthischarge,sheechoedthesamekindoforganizedanxiety,orasBambaratermed impatience, that had driven Black women over the last several years to begin to study themselves.BambarahadnotedBlackwomen’simpatiencewiththewhitewomen’sliberation movementandwith“allthe‘experts’zealouslyhustlingusfolksfortheirdoctoralthesesor government appointments.” To their great chagrin, and again “impatience,” (a word that Bambararepeatedsixtimesinoneparagraph),“inthewholebiographyoffeministliterature, literatureimmediatelyanddirectlyrelevanttous,wouldn’tfillapage.” 55 Chisholm’sdirect engagementwithBambara’stextthroughtheworkofFrancesBealedemonstratestheverykind

ofcriticalfeedbackloopthatwomenlikeFannieBarrierWilliamshadcalledintoexistence throughtheirworkinwomen’sclubs.Chisholmthenusedthepracticeoflisting,callingthe namesofmanyracewomen,includingWellsandTerrell,toconstructherownintellectualand politicalgenealogythroughtheirlifeandwork. Bambara’s textattempted to rectifythis need for self-study, butshe soonrealized the perhapstoo-ambitiousscopeofthebook.Amongafewofthetopicsinhertwelve-pointlist wereto“setupacomparativestudyofthewoman’sroleasshesawitinalltheThirdWorld Nations;examinethepublicschoolsystemandblueprintsomeviablealternatives;explore ourselvesandsettherecordstraightonthematriarchandtheevilBlackbitch;paytributetoall ourwarriorsfromtheancienttimestotheslavetradetoHarrietTubmantoFannieLouHamer tothewomanofthismorning;interview themigrantworkersandthegrandmothersofthe UNIA;analyzetheFreedomBudgetanddesignwaystoimplementit;thoroughlydiscussthe wholepushforBlackStudiesprogramsandaBlackuniversity;getintothewholeareaof sensuality,sex(andisnotinoriginal);andfinally“chartthestepsnecessaryforforminga workingalliancewithallnonwhitewomenoftheworldfortheformationof,amongother things,aclearinghousefortheexchangeofinformation.”Asthis“listgrewandgrew,”she cametounderstanditas a“lifetimeofwork,”ofwhichtheanthologyconstituted“justa beginning.” 56 Inmanyways,though,Blackwomenwhohopedtofulfilltheambitiousintellectualprojects shelaidoutwerebeginningagain.FannieBarrierWilliams,GertrudeBustillMossell,and VictoriaEarleMatthewshadbeencallingforracialknowledgeproductionaboutBlackwomen

since1893.Overthree-quartersofacenturylater,however,Blackwomenstillwerenotseen

asexpertsontheirownsocialcondition,and,indeed,ifEbonyistobebelieved,notcapable ofanyappreciableexpertiseatall.Bambara’slistofitemsofstudy,however,didofferasetof prioritiesforBlackandwomen-of-colorfeminismsthathavebeentakenupacrossarangeof disciplinesatthepresentdate.Theprioritiesshelaidoutcontinuetoinformnewavenuesof studywithinthebroaderfieldsofBlackfeminismandBlackStudies. BlackWomandideffectivelytakeupthechargefromPierce’sEbonyarticletolayouta “newdefinitionofBlackfemininity.”So,forinstance,inBambara’soft-citedessay“Onthe Issue of Roles,” she faced head-on the question of “the Black woman’s Role in the Revolution,”byquestioningboththebinarydefinitionsofmasculineandfeminineandoffering upherownstructuralaccountofBlackgendercategories.Callingstereotypicalnotionsof masculine and feminine “a lot of merchandising nonsense,” Bambara argued that gender binariesmilitatedagainst“whatrevolutionforselfisallabout—thewholeperson.”These questionsabouttherelationsofgenderedidentitiestorevolutionarypoliticsimplicatedeach other, for “the usual notion of sexual differentiation in roles is an obstacle to political consciousness,[because]thewaythosetermsaregenerallydefinedandacteduponinthispart oftheworldisahindrancetofulldevelopment.Andthatisashame,forarevolutionarymust becapableof,aboveall,totalself-autonomy.” 57 Soundinga note ofconcernsimilar to thatexpressed byMurraytwentyyears earlier, Bambara complained about Black women being “jammed in the rigid confines of those basicallyoppressivesocialcontrivedroles,”arguingthattheseinvestmentswererootedinthe economicdemandsmadeonmentoaccumulatepropertyinacapitalistsystemandwiththe

imposedculturaldictatesofChristianity.IfprecolonialAfricansocietieswereanindicator, Bambaraargued(despiteherskepticismoverwhiteanthropologicalaccountsofAfrica),“no rigidandhystericalseparationbasedonsexualtaboos”existed. 58 Still,Blackmenfrequently remainedinvestedintheidea“thatBlackwomenmustbesupportiveandpatientsothatBlack mencanregaintheirmanhood.Thenotionofwomanhood—theyargue…isdependentonhis defininghismanhood.Sotheshitgoeson.”Thesemen,sheaccused,were“obsessive,”about their“lostballs.”Butrevolution“entailsattheveryleastcrackingthroughtheveneerofthis sicksociety’sdefinitionof‘masculine’and‘feminine.’” 59 Notonlywouldengagementwith revolutiontransformthe self,andimplode gender role ideology, butitwouldnecessarily transformfamilystructures.InvokingFanon’sADyingColonialism,Bambaraarguedthatwhen willfullyengagedinarevolutionaryfreedomstruggle,“the‘family’wasnolongerasocially ordainednuclearunittoperpetuatethespeciesorlegitimizesexuality,butanextendedkinship of cellmates and neighbors linked in the business of actualizing a vision of a liberated society.” 60 AsBrooksdemandedofintellectuals,Bambaraturnedthenotionoffamilyonits headandthenofferedupacompletelyreconfiguredconceptthatsheviewedasmorerelevant totheaimsofBlackrevolutionarystruggle.Blackwomen,particularlyBlackclubwomen,had beentheoriginaltheoreticiansoftheBlackfamilyasaninstitution.LikeCooperwhoargued that “a race is but a total of families,” Bambara connected family configuration to the articulationofracial identityor “Blackhood.” 61 Butshe rejectedthe respectable ideas of family that Cooper and early race women believed in. Bambara entered into that long intellectuallegacyoftheorizingraceandfamily,cultivatedbyBlackwomen,showingmore concretelythelinkagesbetweenone’sracialgoalsandthewaysinwhichthatdirectlyrelated to the structure of the Black family. However, she rejected the liberal, assimilationist paradigmsthatMurrayandothersadoptedbyassociatingbinaryconfigurationsofgenderwith hierarchicalideaspropagatedbywhitesupremacy,capitalism,andChristianity.Bambarathus insistedontheneedforapoliticalandeconomicrevolution. ButthatrevolutioncouldbeginonlywithBlackmenandBlackwomenobtaininga“sound analysis.”Thissoundanalysisregarding“roles”wouldleadBlackpeople“tosubmergeall breezydefinitionsofmanhood/womanhood(orrejectthemoutofhandifyou’renotsqueamish about being called neuter) until realistic definitions emerge through a commitment to Blackhood.” 62 Bambarathus concludedthatBlackcommunities wouldcreatestructures to governgenderbaseduponracialdictatesandpoliticalpriorities,butthosestructurescouldnot in any way be predicated on the subordination of femininity vis-à-vis female bodies to masculinityormalebodies.Moreover,herconceptionofBlackhooddisentangledrespectable gendercategoriesfromthearticulationofBlackness.Shearguedforanewwaytoarticulate andmakelegibleBlackhumanity,notpredicatedonaninvestmentinbinarygenderidentities orlimitingnotionsofmanhoodandwomanhood.IftheendofReconstructionhadmadethe articulationofrespectablegenderidentitiesanurgentproject,theimmediacyofthepolitical concernsoftheBlackPowereraurgedandnecessitatednewarticulationsofBlacknessand gender.ThoughBambaradoesnotelaborateanyfurtherhereonthemeaningandfunctionof “Blackhood,”sheimplicitlyarguesthatthewaysweunderstandraceareinextricablylinkedto the ways we understand and articulate gender. Black communities needed entirely new

conceptionsofgender,onesrootedintheprimacyofpreservingBlacklife,inordertomove toward liberatory articulations of Black identity. Ironically, though Bambara’s clear commitmenttoBlacknational politicsmighthavebeenoff-puttingtoMurray,undoubtedly MurraywouldhavereveledinBambara’scallstothrowoffthestricturesoftraditionalgender roles. Indeed, both women attempt to retheorize and expand Black women’s gender possibilities byofferingup new (thoughwhollydifferent) conceptions of racial identity. Murrayembraced the multiracial, whereas Bambara opted for anidentityrooted inpeak Blackness.Bambara’snotionofBlackhoodconstitutesatwentieth-centuryattemptatdefining theverykindofracialsocialitythatFannieBarrierWilliamshadbeenconcernedwithinthe

late1890s.Antirespectableinitsrejectionoftraditionalgenderroles,Blackhoodasaformof

revolutionary,queer,Blackracialsociality,hadthepotential—andindeedeventheintrinsic

demand—toformulatenewideasabouttheperformanceofBlackgenderidentities.

PuttingBlackWomenontheList

TheintellectualworkofBlackWomanastextisimportantbecauseitreconstitutedBlack women’shistoricpracticeoflistingthroughtheformoftheliteraryanthology.Blackwomen hademployededitedcompendiumsofcoauthoredbiographiesasaformofintellectualhistory

sincethenineteenthcentury.GertrudeMossell’sWorkoftheAfro-AmericanWoman(1894)

proclaimed,“[T]heintellectualhistoryofaraceisalwaysofvalueindeterminingthepastand futureofit,”andshebelievedBlackwomen’slivesshouldbeadocumentedpartofBlack intellectualhistory.HallieQuinnBrown’sHomespunHeroines(1925) andSadieDaniel’s

WomenBuilders(1931)continuedthisworkofprofilingprominentAfricanAmericanwomen

leaderswellintothetwentiethcentury.However,weshouldalsounderstandBambara’sturnto theanthologycomposedofactualwritingbymultipleBlackwomenauthorsasitsownkindof Blackfeministintellectualmethodthatcoulddisruptthesupremacyoflistsdominatedbymen. Alice Walker reminds us that Zora Neale Hurston was almost relegated to obscurity becauseoftheinherentsexisminreceivedlistsandcanonsofimportantBlackthinkers.She writes:“[T]hefirsttimeIheardZora’sname,IwasauditingaBlackliteratureclasstaughtby thegreatpoetMargaretWalker,atJacksonStateCollege,inJackson,Mississippi.…Theclass wasstudyingthe‘usual’giantsofBlackliterature:Chesnutt,Toomer,Hughes,Wright,Ellison, andBaldwinwiththehopeofreachingLeRoiJonesverysoon.JessieFauset,NellaLarsen, AnnPetry,PauleMarshall…andZoraNealeHurstonwerenamesappended,likeverbal footnotes, to the illustrious all-male listthatparalleled them.” 63 Blackwomen’s repeated encounterswiththe“all-malelist”havestructuredeveryfacetofourintellectuallives. Walker and other women, including literary scholar and Combahee River Collective cofounderBarbaraSmith,counteredtheintellectualtyrannyofthe“all-malelist”whenthey

taughtthefirstcoursesonBlackWomenWritersintheearly1970s.Walkertaughtthefirst

BlackwomenwriterscoursesatWellesleyandattheUniversityofMassachusettsaround1971

or1972.Herlistincluded“NellaLarsen,FrancesWatkinsHarper(poetryandnovel),Dorothy

West,AnnPetry,[and]PauleMarshall,amongothers.”SmithtaughtHurston’sworkinaBlack women’swriterscoursein1973. 64 Thesefirstcourses,takentogetherwithliterarycriticism fromscholars like Barbara Smithand MaryHelenWashington, provided the intellectual

scaffoldingfortheBlackWomen’sLiteraryRenaissanceandforthereemergenceoftheBlack womanliteraryintellectualasanotheriterationoftheracewomanfigure.FrancesHarperhad beenthefirst. Blackfeminists’anthological practiceoflistingremindsusthatputtingBlackwomen’s namesonthelistsimultaneouslyconstitutedputtingBlackwomen’sthoughtsonthemapand making space for the work of a range of Black women thinkers to be taken seriously. Bambara’sworkgavebirthtoseveralwomenofcolorfeministanthologies,includingAllthe

WomenAreWhite,AlltheBlacksAreMen:ButSomeofUsAreBrave(1982),ThisBridge

CalledMyBack:RadicalWritingsbyWomenofColor(1983),andHomeGirls:ABlack

FeministAnthology(1983).Theseworksdidnotattempttoconstitutecanonsofnewthinkers,

butrathertodemonstratethebreadthofexistingBlackandwomen-of-colorthinkers. Asliteraryintellectuals,Bambara,ToniMorrison,andAliceWalkertookonthetaskof reformulatingthelate-twentieth-centurylandscapeofBlackwomen’sintellectualthought,not onlybywritinggroundbreakingnovels like Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970) and Sula

(1973),andWalker’sTheThirdLifeofGrangeCopeland(1970)andMeridian(1976),but

also byusinga range of positions ininfluential institutions to shift the course of Black women’s creative intellectual productionandintellectual history.As aneditor atRandom House,ToniMorrisonwasresponsibleforlaunchingthecareersofGaylJonesandGloria Naylor;allthreewomen’snovelshavebecomecanonicalinthestudyofAfricanAmerican women’sliterature. WalkertookituponherselftoexcavateZoraNealeHurston’sliteraryintellectuallegacyas both a novelist and an anthropologist. In 1973, she traveled to Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville,Florida—inwhathasbecomeoneoftheoriginstoriesofcontemporaryBlack

feminism—inordertolocateHurston’sgraveandplaceamarkeronit.Standinginasnake-

infestedgraveyard,withovergrownweeds,Walkercallsout“Zora!I’mhere.Areyou?” 65 Whenshefoundherselfstandinginasinkholethatseemedtofitthedescriptionofwhere Hurstonisburied,sheplacedagravemarkerthere. Inmanywaysthough,herlooking,hercallingout,hernamingofherownpresence,andher questioningofthepresenceofher intellectual andcreativeforebear is emblematicofthe contemporaryquestofBlackfeministintellectuals to retrieve Blackwomen’s intellectual history.Walker’sstoryiswellknownamongBlackfeministscholars,whoforthelastfour decadeshaveexcavatedandcreatedaviabledisciplineofBlackfeministliterarycriticism. BecauseofherinsistenceontellingZora’sstory,manyofHurston’sbooksarebackinprint, andhermostwell-knownnovel,TheirEyesWereWatchingGod,hasevenbeenmadeintoa movie.Asascholarfromanewergeneration,IamtakingmycuesnotprimarilyfromHurston, butratherfromWalker,whosojournedthroughthefieldlookinguntilshefoundHurston. The field of African American Women’s Intellectual History is strewn about with unrecognizedBlackfemalegenius.Walker’sgenerationofscholarshasdoneagreatjobof markingthegravesofthesewomen,sotospeak,ofmakingthecasefortheirvalueandtheir presence.Yet,itisalsotruethattoomanyofourintellectualgenealogiesandgeographies beginandendinovergrowngraveyards,amidasilentcacophonyofunmarkedgraves.Itismy generation’sjobnotonlytomakesurethosemarkersremainmeticulouslylandscapedandin full view but also to dig deeper, to think seriously about the material conditions and

intellectualtermsuponwhichourthinkersarememorialized,andtoretrieveandrevisittheir workwithrenewedvigorandscrutiny.Inthisbook,Iseektotakeseriouslytheintellectual formulationsandmethodsputforthbythesewomen;therangeofmethodstheyemployedand deployedtochallengemasculinistnarrativesofBlackintellectualproduction;andtherangeof waysthattheysoughttothrowoffthedictatesofBlackrespectabilitypolitics,tocreatenew formulationsofgender,andtooffernewideasofwhataBlackpublicmightlooklike.Black women’sintellectualworkhasbeenboundintegrallytoourunderstandingofnotionsofthe publicandnotionsofgenderpoliticsandwhattheyallowanddisallow.Thetermracewoman