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They Would Not Be Kept Down

October 22, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

Black woman were often more successful due to the promoted value of education in African American Community. According to Paula Giddings, blue collar male workers were paid more than females so sons were encouraged to drop out before daughters (329). 7.2% of Black females held profession jobs compared with 3.1% of Black males (Giddings, 329). A 9.6% of the African American physicians were black woman compared to only 7% of White female physicians (332). African American woman also felt more confident within their successful occupation when asked 74% felt if they suited their career were as only 49% of White females felt that they did a study done in 1964 (Giddings, 333).

During the civil rights movement Black organizations fighting for African American rights often were not interested in supporting female African Americans. Black men within such organizations such as the SNCC, Black Panther Party, CORE, and the SCLC seemed to only allow women within to gain so much power. According to Giddings, the men concerned about their masculinity tried to keep woman from speaking , having positions over men. They expected woman to do the grunt work and other non-leadership jobs such as taking notes, serving food and such.

Ella Baker a woman heavily involved in the SCLC, wrote: “There would never be any role for me in a leadership capacity with the SCLC. Why? First, I am a woman…. The combination of the basic attitude of Men, and especially ministers, as to what the role of women in their church setups is- that of taking orders, not providing leadership.”(Giddings, 312).
Angela Davis worked with the Los Angeles chapter of SNCC. In When and Where I Enter, Davis discussed how the men did less work than the women but then “women where involved in something important, they began to talk about women taking over the organization calling in a matriarchal coup d’etat.” (Giddings, 316).

This kind of treatment was common though out Black organizations. Within the Black Panther Party Kathleen Cleaver who was an officer encountered similar problems stating “if I suggested them, the suggestion might be rejected; if they were suggested by a man the suggestion would be implemented… the fact that the suggestion came from a woman gave it some lesser value.” (Giddings, 317).
Gloria Richardson participation in a rally was shouted down by member of CORE who called her a “Castrator” (Giddings, 317). Richardson’s experience expresses the fears of the men so bluntly. Men who were already oppressed by whites did not want to lose power and masculinity to their female counterparts.

Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter.  1983. William Morrow and Company, Inc.

2 responses to They Would Not Be Kept Down

  1. What was the driving force behind these folks? What made them tick? To stand against the opposition when historically the odds were against you. I wonder if there were any second thoughts about what they did? It could not have been easy for them.

  2. If it was me, I do not know if I would have been able to achieve these accomplishments. The fight in these women to achieve is remarkable.

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