By Judith Weisenfeld
the center category black girls who humans Judith Weisenfeld's background have been devoted either to social motion and to institutional expression in their non secular convictions. Their tale offers an illuminating standpoint at the diverse forces operating to enhance caliber of existence for African american citizens in the most important occasions.
whilst venture to aid younger women migrating to and residing on my own in ny, Weisenfeld's protagonists selected to paintings inside a countrywide evangelical establishment. Their association of a black bankruptcy of the younger Women's Christian organization in 1905 used to be a transparent step towards setting up an appropriate atmosphere for younger operating ladies; it used to be additionally an expression in their philosophy of social uplift. And predictably it used to be the start of an equivalent rights struggle--to paintings as equals with white ladies activists. transforming into and adapting as New York's black neighborhood advanced over the many years, the black YWCA assumed a valuable function either within the community's non secular lifestyles and as a coaching flooring for social motion. Weisenfeld's research of the setbacks and successes closes with the nationwide YWCA's vote in 1946 to undertake an interracial constitution and circulation towards integration of neighborhood chapters, hence establishing the door to another set of demanding situations for a brand new iteration of black activists.
Weisenfeld's account offers a colourful photograph of African American girls as major actors within the lifetime of the town. And it bears telling witness to the spiritual, type, gender, and racial negotiations so frequently eager about American social reform pursuits.
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Extra resources for African American Women and Christian Activism: New York's Black YWCA, 1905-1945
Charles T. Walker, pastor of Mt. 9 The churches were not the only arena for women's work, however. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African American women in New York City forged a network of activists and organizations that emerged as a significant force both in the city and on the national scene. The work of African American women in these organizations reveals the broad scope of concerns of New York's black Christian activist women. Unquestionably, Victoria Earle Matthews belongs at the center of this network at the end of the nineteenth century and provides the best example of the ways in which African American women in the city negated simple distinctions between secular and religious work.
Y W C A workers in New York and in other city associations carefully emphasized to their membership that participation in Bible class and prayer services in no way substituted for church attendance. T h e association's work focused on developing a personal relationship with members in order to guide them into churches or, in some cases, back to churches. " 35 T h e Bible would also function as an avenue to literacy for working women. Clearly, Y W C A Bible study did not encourage poor women to engage in biblical exegesis, independent thinking, or an individualist approach to Christian scripture.
Elizabeth Frazier, also schoolteachers—pursued their objectives on both the local and national levels. Locally, the W L U took up the issue of employment opportunities for African American women in New York. They called for a "crusade" to gain access to jobs in sales, an area of employment traditionally restricted to white women, and sought ways to ensure that young African American women received training for such positions. Labor questions would remain central to the local work of the WLU, even as its membership looked to address other issues.