Following the end of the Civil War, the United States witnessed the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments, legislation that abolished slavery and sought to endow African American communities with the full rights of citizenship. These constitutional protections, however, did not fully shield black men and women from the effects of virulent racism. This thesis argues that ordinary and elite African American women living in New York from 1860–1890 actively challenged such discrimination by embracing the politics of respectability, a strategy they believed would improve own communities, while also garnering respect and fair treatment from the city’s white residents. Through an adherence to principles of industry and thrift, spiritual and physical cleanliness, and self-reliance and self-respect, New York’s black women forthrightly demanded a recognition of their rights as respectable women. Furthermore, the elasticity of these principles allowed women of a wide variety of social and economic backgrounds to embrace respectability politics as a viable strategy of resistance, encouraging them to transform the multiple private, communal, and public spaces that informed their daily lives into sites of protest. As a result, such negotiations reveal respectability politics, far from a Progressive Era invention, was a resistance strategy firmly rooted in the experiences of earlier generations of nineteenth-century black women who sought to lead moral, upright lives even in the face of an American society hostile to their needs and ambitions.
|Advisor:||Dabel, Jane E.|
|Commitee:||Keirn, Tim, Luhr, Eileen|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 56/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||African American Studies, American history|
|Keywords:||African American women, Civil war and reconstruction, New York, Politics of respectability|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be