Abiding courage: African American migrant women and the East by Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

By Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

Among 1940 and 1945, hundreds of thousands of African american citizens migrated from the South to the East Bay region of northern California looking for the social and financial mobility that was once linked to the region's increasing security and its recognition for larger racial tolerance. Drawing on fifty oral interviews with migrants in addition to on archival and different written documents, Abiding braveness examines the studies of the African American girls who migrated west and outfitted groups there.Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo vividly exhibits how girls made the transition from southern household and box paintings to jobs in an commercial, wartime economic system. whilst, they have been suffering to maintain their households jointly, setting up new families, and growing community-sustaining networks and associations. whereas white ladies shouldered the double burden of salary hard work and house responsibilities, black ladies confronted even larger demanding situations: discovering homes and faculties, finding church buildings and clinical providers, and contending with racism. by means of targeting girls, Lemke-Santangelo presents new views on the place and the way social switch happens and the way neighborhood is proven and maintained.

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Additional info for Abiding courage: African American migrant women and the East Bay community

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All of my informants can be characterized as successful migrants. They were proud of their lives and willing to share their stories. They had worked hard at blue-collar or service-sector jobs, raised families, and managed to save for modest but comfortable retirements. None had given up on the East Bay and returned to the South, although most retained strong connections to friends and family back home. A majority of black migrants did, in fact, remain in the East Bay, and many who left returned to the South to start businesses or buy land with wartime savings.

Gracie Potter, born in Pelican, Louisiana, boarded less comfortably with a minister in Mansfield while she attended high school. 11 Most families did not have the resources to send children away. Lacey Gray, whose family owned a farm in Longleaf, Louisiana, walked two and a half miles to school and two and a half miles home. All seven grades met in a single drafty hall where grownups held evening and weekend meetings. In this less than ideal environment, three instructors managed to teach more in seven grades than Lacey's own daughters later learned in twelve.

Most, however, were forced into the low-paying institutional service sector as cooks, custodians, and nurse's aides, a variation of the domestic service jobs many had held in the South. Because they filled the lowest-paying jobs in the labor force both during and after the war, migrant women created an alternate source of status and identity as homemakers, church women, and community workers. By defining their labor on behalf of family and community as "real work," migrant women resisted categorization as menial or marginal laborers.

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