The Hidden History Of 19th Century Black Women's Clubs

August 5, 2019

Women were getting organized to fight for their rights in the late 19th century. One way was by forming “Voluntary Associations,” or clubs - groups to build community, raise consciousness, and build power for women’s issues.

Of course, these were white women, so Black women were forcefully excluded.

But Black women wouldn’t be pressed by this exclusion. They just formed their own clubs, which had major accomplishments - especially when it came to education, the rights of children, and anti-racism. 

But because they were women, and Black, their incredible impact on America has been largely ignored.

Black women’s clubs like the Searchlight Club organized against lynching. The Female Benevolent Society and others crusaded for the rights of the poor and taught skills like money management. The Women’s Political Council essentially jumpstarted the Montgomery Bus Boycott. 

And they were essential in changing child labor laws, creating kindergartens and nursery schools, and funding Black women’s education.

Our people have a long history of being excluded from the mainstream - and in creating our own groups, schools and institutions to surpass and then stunt on those who tried to keep us out!

Look around locally to see if there’s a Black women’s group near you, and be a part of a centuries-long legacy of Black women getting together and getting things done!

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