Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C

Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C Book Reviews 1031 modernization, while the secretary of the navy sense of possibility for self-determination and proved more visionary. To be sure, more than autonomy” (p. 53). building world-class battleships was at stake. Chapter 1 offers a fascinating look at Lucy Differences between the executive and legisla - Diggs Slowe, the first dean of women at H -ow tive branches over reforming the navy bureau ard University. Lindsey details the many ways system, solidifying officer staffing issues, and Slowe was a trailblazer, including winning a introducing a naval reserve force and state mi - national tennis title and becoming president litia system persisted well into the twentieth of the National Association of College - Wom century. Through all these debates, Congress en, creating infrastructure to provide -profes ultimately controlled the outcomes. sional development for college-educated black This is an instructive book that nicely cap - women at a time when their education was not tures the political and economic dimensions of prioritized and their job prospects were even the rise of American naval power. It deserves a less so. Chapter 2 examines the black beauty wide readership. culture that emerged in Washington, D.C., as observed in local newspapers that reflected Merritt Roe Smith national trends. Lindsey notes many publica - Massachusetts Institute of Technology tions’ tendency to place a premium on light Cambridge, Massachusetts skin and straight (or straightened) hair. She doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax478 suggests that this bias cannot be denied but ar - gues that scholars have overlooked the many Colored No More:  Reinventing Black Woman- black women who did not simply conform. hood in Washington, D.C. By Treva B. Lindsey. The chapter highlights the growing number (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017. of women who created businesses that did not xvi, 182 pp. Cloth, $95.00. Paper, $26.00.) use promises of lighter skin and straighter hair to attract customers. Lindsey makes clear that Treva B. Lindsey’s Colored No More places such enclaves could not have existed without a spotlight on black women in the nation’s black women’s insistence upon defining beauty capital in the late nineteenth and earl-y twen for themselves. tieth centuries. Lindsey argues that attention In Chapter 3 Lindsey uses black women ac - to women and to Washington, D.C., ne -ces tivists in the nation’s capital, especially Mary sarily alters scholarly understandings of how Church Terrell, to show that while white suf - African Americans moved from “colored” to fragists performed their rejection of the con - “New Negro” status. Lindsey shows how - fo straints of proper femininity, black suffrage ac - cusing on the post–World War I period and tivists made space for their political demands on New York has prevented certain insights. by performing restrained “ladyhood.” Chapter Washington, D.C., is both the nation’s capital 4 takes a close look at the literary salon that and a southern city, and “the inu fl x of black Georgia Douglas Johnson hosted in her home women to New York occurred later than in to understand how it made possible the work Washington,” so “the seismic shifts oft-en as of many other black women authors. This fair - sociated with the Great Migration and -the in ly short study has more typographical errors terwar period began in Washington as early as than a reader can ignore, but it has much to the 1870s” (pp. 143, 139). The study identifies teach about the New Negro movement, - in some of those “seismic shifts” in four c - hap cluding how courageously women such as ters and through an “analysis of plays, poetry, Slowe struggled against black men’s demands journal articles, editorials, and other printed for domination. media”—that is, through an “intention -al in Koritha Mitchell vestigation of the discursive” (p. 21). Above Ohio State University all, Lindsey honors black women’s work to Columbus, Ohio make the capital city into a space that could affirm and advance their “unprecedented doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax479 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1031/4932656 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

Colored No More: Reinventing Black Womanhood in Washington, D.C

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Abstract

Book Reviews 1031 modernization, while the secretary of the navy sense of possibility for self-determination and proved more visionary. To be sure, more than autonomy” (p. 53). building world-class battleships was at stake. Chapter 1 offers a fascinating look at Lucy Differences between the executive and legisla - Diggs Slowe, the first dean of women at H -ow tive branches over reforming the navy bureau ard University. Lindsey details the many ways system, solidifying officer staffing issues, and Slowe was a trailblazer, including winning a introducing a naval reserve force and state mi - national tennis title and becoming president litia system persisted well into the twentieth of the National Association of College - Wom century. Through all these debates, Congress en, creating infrastructure to provide -profes ultimately controlled the outcomes. sional development for college-educated black This is an instructive book that nicely cap - women at a time when their education was not tures the political and economic dimensions of prioritized and their job prospects were even the rise of American naval power. It deserves a less so. Chapter 2 examines the black beauty wide readership. culture that emerged in Washington, D.C., as observed in local newspapers that reflected Merritt Roe Smith national trends. Lindsey notes many publica - Massachusetts Institute of Technology tions’ tendency to place a premium on light Cambridge, Massachusetts skin and straight (or straightened) hair. She doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax478 suggests that this bias cannot be denied but ar - gues that scholars have overlooked the many Colored No More:  Reinventing Black Woman- black women who did not simply conform. hood in Washington, D.C. By Treva B. Lindsey. The chapter highlights the growing number (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017. of women who created businesses that did not xvi, 182 pp. Cloth, $95.00. Paper, $26.00.) use promises of lighter skin and straighter hair to attract customers. Lindsey makes clear that Treva B. Lindsey’s Colored No More places such enclaves could not have existed without a spotlight on black women in the nation’s black women’s insistence upon defining beauty capital in the late nineteenth and earl-y twen for themselves. tieth centuries. Lindsey argues that attention In Chapter 3 Lindsey uses black women ac - to women and to Washington, D.C., ne -ces tivists in the nation’s capital, especially Mary sarily alters scholarly understandings of how Church Terrell, to show that while white suf - African Americans moved from “colored” to fragists performed their rejection of the con - “New Negro” status. Lindsey shows how - fo straints of proper femininity, black suffrage ac - cusing on the post–World War I period and tivists made space for their political demands on New York has prevented certain insights. by performing restrained “ladyhood.” Chapter Washington, D.C., is both the nation’s capital 4 takes a close look at the literary salon that and a southern city, and “the inu fl x of black Georgia Douglas Johnson hosted in her home women to New York occurred later than in to understand how it made possible the work Washington,” so “the seismic shifts oft-en as of many other black women authors. This fair - sociated with the Great Migration and -the in ly short study has more typographical errors terwar period began in Washington as early as than a reader can ignore, but it has much to the 1870s” (pp. 143, 139). The study identifies teach about the New Negro movement, - in some of those “seismic shifts” in four c - hap cluding how courageously women such as ters and through an “analysis of plays, poetry, Slowe struggled against black men’s demands journal articles, editorials, and other printed for domination. media”—that is, through an “intention -al in Koritha Mitchell vestigation of the discursive” (p. 21). Above Ohio State University all, Lindsey honors black women’s work to Columbus, Ohio make the capital city into a space that could affirm and advance their “unprecedented doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax479 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1031/4932656 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

Journal

The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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