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To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black…

To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors… (edition 1998)

by Tera W. Hunter (Author)

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1184102,161 (4.03)1
Title:To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War
Authors:Tera W. Hunter (Author)
Info:Harvard University Press (1998), Edition: Reprint, 322 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:women, 19c, african american, race, labor, south, urban, reconstruction

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To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War by Tera W. Hunter



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A must read for everyone. The tales of these women were so matter of fact no matter if they were terrifying, touching or frustrating. ( )
  fabooj | Feb 3, 2015 |
Tera Hunter has written an excellent book, one which is both scholarly and engaging for non-scholars. She writes about black women in Atlanta from the Civil War through World War I and the beginnings of their “great migration” to northern cities. Throughout most that period, over 90% of black women in Atlanta worked as domestic servants, making it very relevant for Real Help.

T’Joy My Freedom is an appealing book. Hunter’s descriptions of particular women and events give the book an immediacy and make it an enjoyable read for a wide range of readers. Her stories of black women scandalizing white observers with their bright clothes and parasols, the little-known strike of Atlanta washerwomen, and the rise of black women as blues singers give readers a sense of women not beaten down by the limitations of their lives. In addition, her meticulous research and writing ensure that other historians respected her work.

Hunter’s approach is to place the black women of Atlanta in the context of the emergence of the city after the Civil War. As she describes, reconstruction in Atlanta and throughout the south involved the shift from slavery to wage labor. Atlanta was a new kind of southern city based on railroads and manufacturing rather than slavery, yet it was always a place determined to retain control over blacks. Through Hunter’s sources we can see the emerging black neighborhoods, the palatial mansions of rich whites, and Decatur Street where new entertainment enterprises were emerging. Gradually, we also see the development of virulent anti-black attitudes taking shape and becoming the legal limitations of the Jim Crow south where blacks were threatened with violence and segregation was the norm. Ironically, black women were still expected to work in the homes of whites even as fears of what they brought into those homes grew. By the time of World War I, the possibility of jobs and greater breathing space offered black women and men alternatives to what Atlanta offered, and they began to move to northern cities.

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  mdbrady | Feb 8, 2012 |
Hunter examines the lives of southern black women, particularly southern domestic workers, by narrowing her focus in on the development of the city of Atlanta after the Civil War. Since many ex-slaves moved to Atlanta and then migrated again north during the Great Migration decades later, this makes for an excellent focal point for the topic. By examining black women's lives in Atlanta both in and out of their employer's homes, she is able to dissect the roles of race, class, and gender in the elite's attempts to maintain dominance in America.

A stunning examination of the intersections of race, class, and gender in southern Americans' lives. It is impossible to read this book and not be enraged, moved, and inspired. Read it.

Check out my full review: http://wp.me/pp7vL-G5 (Link will be live on January 14, 2012). ( )
  gaialover | Jan 9, 2012 |
Hunter explores the multi-faceted lives of black Southern women laborers from the postbellum era through the Great Migration during World War I. This book is a valuable resource in the study suffragist activism, feminist scholarship, and African American studies.
  USM_GulfCoast | Feb 1, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674893085, Paperback)

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 might have signaled the end of slavery, but the beginning of freedom remained far out of sight for most of the four million enslaved African Americans living in the South. Even after the Civil War, when thousands of former slaves flocked to southern cities in search of work, they found the demands placed on them as wage-earners disturbingly similar to those they had faced as slaves: seven-day workweeks, endless labor, and poor treatment. In To 'Joy My Freedom, author Tera W. Hunter takes a close look at the lives of black women in the post-Civil War South and draws some interesting conclusions. Hunter's interest in the subject was initially sparked by her research of the washerwomen's strike of 1881. This labor protest by more than 3,000 Atlanta laundresses is symbolic, Hunter posits, of African American women's ability to build communities and practice effective, if rough-and-ready, political strategies outside the mainstream electoral system.

To 'Joy My Freedom is a fascinating look at the long-neglected story of black women in postwar southern culture. Hunter examines the strategies these women (98 percent of whom worked as domestic servants) used to cope with low wages and poor working conditions and their efforts to master the tools of advancement, including literacy. Hunter explores not only the political, but the cultural, too, offering an in-depth look at the distinctive music, dance, and theater that grew out of the black experience in the South.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:41 -0400)

Tera Hunter follows African-American working women from their newfound optimism and hope at the end of the Civil War to their struggles as free domestic laborers in the homes of their former master. We witness their drive as they build neighborhoods and networks and their energy as they enjoy leisure hours in dance halls and clubs. We learn of their militance and the way they resisted efforts to keep them economically depressed and medically victimized. Finally, we see the despair and defeat provoked by Jim Crow laws and segregation and how they spurred large numbers of black laboring women to migrate north.… (more)

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