Black activist women’s studied silences have made it difficult for subsequent generations to learn their motives, what drove them to prioritize certain reforms, as well as who kept them going and helped uplift their spirits. Their biographers are now illuminating their motivations and revealing the connections between their personal circumstances and activism.
Biographies of prominent black women can reveal the challenges and the strength of those who faced the challenges of the double burden of racism and sexism. Determined to break the boundaries placed on them, black women such as Sojourner Truth, Frances Watkins Harper, and Mary Church Terrell entered political debates about race, legislative reform, public advocacy to achieve their reform goals. Each strove to free herself from racial and gendered restrictions, both legal and social, as she fought for freedom and citizenship for all African Americans.