Countdown: 3 More Weeks Until the Destiny’s Surrender Release!!!!
I started re-reading Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins to prepare for the release to its follow-up Destiny’s Surrender in 3 weeks. With it being Labor Day yesterday, I thought reading about a heroine who is a housekeeper as timely. Mariah Cooper cleaned up what sounded like a nasty house, washed the laundry, cooked meals and made clothes for a living. As I read on, I started wondering about how African-American women contributed to the Labor Movement. Boy, was I surprised with what I found after a quick search of the internet:
Atlanta Washerwoman strike of 1881 – in the same year that my alma mater Spelman College was founded in Atlanta, GA, African-American women shut the city down. The majority of the washerwomen in the city at that time were African-American. They organized themselves into a union and went on strike to demand fairer wages. In other words, nobody in town had clean clothes to wear unless these women were paid adequately. (Or they could always wash their own clothes themselves.) The mayor had to get involved to resolve the dispute. In the end, these sistas were paid what they were worth. Read more about this event at: http://www.aflcio.org/About/Our-History/Key-Events-in-Labor-History/Atlanta-s-Washerwomen-Strike
The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – considered the backbone of the first organized African-American labor union, these ladies’ contributions made this union’s organizing efforts, which included the 1963 March on Washington, a success. This auxiliary gave its members experience in community organizing and legislative lobbying that laid the groundwork for the mid-century Civil Rights movement and their input in the development of future legislation. Read more about these ladies at: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=2737
Lucille Green Randolph – Asa Philip Randolph, organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and of the 1963 March on Washington, was one of the most well-known African-Americans in the early 20th Century Labor Movement. What people don’t know was that he received very little pay from his organizing efforts. His wife Lucille Green Randolph was the breadwinner in their household. A widowed Howard graduate and former schoolteacher when they met, her success as a Harlem hairdresser made it possible for Mr. Randolph to focus on his organizing activities. She was one of earliest graduates of Madame C.J. Walker’s New York beauty college. She catered her services to the elite ladies – both Black and White – of New York City. Her husband was once labeled “the most dangerous Negro in America” by the Federal government. Lucile Green Randolph had the honor of holding the title of the “second most dangerous Negro in America.” Read more about Mr. and Mrs. Randolph at: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0415.html
Image Courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/the New York Public Library
Hello, aspiring authors of African-American historical romance! Surely you can find some inspiration from these highlights. Readers, can’t you see love happening in 1881 Atlanta or between a socialite hairdresser and a firebrand aspiring civil rights activist in 1914 Harlem?