NONFICTION

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box

Viking. Apr. 2020. 176p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780451481542.
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Gr 5-7–Dionne clearly presents the difficult battle for women’s suffrage that African American women endured before Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919. The trek to the ballot box for African American women was a difficult one, with many grim realities to overcome before and after the amendment’s ratification. Beginning with the start of the abolitionist movement in the 1830s and continuing to the present day, Dionne demonstrates why women anti-slavery advocates (African American and white) felt the need to band together to fight the sexism of the national abolitionist establishment. For instance, at the organizational meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society, African American women were not invited to attend. The select white women in attendance were expected to observe the proceedings in silence. African American women fought their marginalization in the anti-slavery and later female suffrage movements and made their voices heard. The identification of African American women activists and the parts they played in American history is the strength of Dionne’s book. So many of these women played pivotal roles in the passage of fundamental civil rights legislation, yet remain unidentified in mainstream accounts.
VERDICT A must-purchase for all secondary school libraries. Readers who liked Fighting Chance: The Struggle Over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage In Reconstruction America by Faye E. Dudden and Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas will particularly like Dionne’s work.

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