"Black Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement." By Zita Allen
Building Bridges Online - Ken's Labor Book Reviews
By Zita Allen
1996. 128p. $22.70.
At the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, all the speeches were delivered by men.
The women sat behind them on stage and massed in front on the Mall.
But despite their absence from centerstage and the positions of power, women were the backbone of the civil rights movement.
new book, "Black Women Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement," covers not only the best known giants of the movement like Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Constance Baker Motley and, of course, Fannie Lou Hamer.
also brings in representatives of the thousands of rank-and-file women who ran the mimeo machines, distributed the leaflets, demonstrated in the streets and housed the out-of-town cadres, often at risk of their jobs, homes and even lives.
They also pressured the ministers and local black leadership to support the ever more militant and confrontational tactics of the mass movement.
By writing about the unsung heroines of the civil rights movement, Allen
has produced a concise history at the local level.
It tracks the movement in hot spots and campaigns like the school boycotts, the Cambridge movement, Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's challenge to the Democratic Party in 1964.
By writing about this level of activity, Allen
captures the danger, fear and brutal prison conditions overcome by these women civil rights leaders as well as the struggles within the movement over levels of nonviolent confrontation and militance.
has also produced a concise grassroots history of the immense contributions of women to the civil rights movement that will inspire readers young and old.
Allen -- who is associate editor of the Public Employee Press -- will conduct a book discussion and signing of "Black Women of the Civil Rights Movement.
The event -- sponsored by the DC 37 Education Fund and the DC 37 Women's Committee
as part of its spring authors series -- will be held on Monday, March 31, in Room 4 at union headquarters, starting at 6 p.m.
As an extra attraction, Allen
will invite some of the women she's
Happy Women's History Month!