Throughout history, the black woman has always had a multitude of responsibilities thrust upon her shoulders. This was never truer than for southern black women in the period between 1865 and 1885. In this span of twenty years, these women were responsible for their children, their husbands, supporting their families, their fight for freedom as black citizens and as women, their sexual freedom, and various other issues that impacted their lives. All of these aspects of the black woman’s life defined who she was. Each of her experiences and battles shaped the life that she lived, and the way she was perceived by the outside world.
Who were these women, and how did the experiences in their life shape who they were? This essay will argue that these women’s identities can be surmised by the way in which they handled the different responsibilities and experiences that they were exposed to in the aftermath of slavery. These responsibilities and experiences formed who they were; only by looking at the identities of these women can their lives be studied and explored. In this essay the southern black woman’s occupational identity, sexual identity, family identity, and gender identity will be examined. There are, of course, many more specific aspects of these women’s identity, but these are the ones that furnish the clearest and most specific view of what these women were about. It is through these four aspects of the southern black women’s identity a picture of them can be drawn. One will be able to recognize the hardships they overcame and the effort they put forth in order to be seen as citizens of the United States of America.
In the per...
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... to the strikers’ demands or burden their husbands’ salaries, ‘some of the first ladies of this city have announced themselves as ready to carry their accomplishments into the kitchen.’” These black women were standing up to those who had oppressed them, and, for a change, making their employers lives more difficult.
The black woman’s occupational identity in the period after the Civil War was one of frustration and reciprocation. There were many barriers preventing them from succeeding, but these women did not buckle. They used the opportunity advanced by emancipation to make their lives conform to their own wishes, to irritate the powerful white establishment, and to maintain their identities as free black women in the South. They did not give in to the pressure that was inflicted upon them, but instead used the importance of their labor to their own advantage.
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