A Black Women’s History of the United States

Beacon. Feb. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780807033555. $27.95. HIST
This work by Berry (history, Univ. of Texas at Austin) and Gross (history, Rutgers Univ.) expands the ReVisioning American History series by Beacon Press. Each chapter begins with a story about a black woman’s experience around a selected topic. As the authors flesh out the chapter with wide-ranging and deeply researched information, they weave the featured story into the narrative to illustrate the topic under discussion. Chapter topics include black women’s presence in the Americas prior to the Atlantic slave trade, enslaved black women’s rebellions and legal battles for their freedom, the formation of black women’s organizations working for political and social justice, black women choosing to live outside the law and their carceral experiences, the Great Migration and black nationalism, and black women’s roles in contemporary protest movements. Most stories are about women who were assigned female at birth, but some trans women’s stories are included as well.
VERDICT A substantial addition to popular history. Will likely be well-received by black women seeking better historical representation and by allies looking to educate themselves about black history.

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