Household Workers Unite:
The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement
This event includes a book signing
February 5, 2016
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author, scholar, and activist PREMILLA NADASEN for a discussion of her latest book, Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women Who Built a Movement. In this new book she tells the stories of African American domestic workers—resurrecting a little-known history of domestic worker activism in the 1960s and 1970s, and offering new perspectives on race, labor, feminism, and organizing.
About Household Workers Unite
In this groundbreaking history of African American domestic-worker organizing, Premilla Nadasen shatters countless myths and misconceptions about an historically misunderstood workforce. Resurrecting a little-known history of domestic-worker activism from the 1950s to the 1970s, Nadasen shows how these women were a far cry from the stereotyped passive and powerless victims; they were innovative labor organizers who tirelessly organized on buses and streets across the United States to bring dignity and legal recognition to their occupation.
Dismissed by mainstream labor as “unorganizable,” African American household workers developed unique strategies for social change and formed unprecedented alliances with activists in both the women’s rights and the black freedom movements. Using storytelling as a form of activism and as means of establishing a collective identity as workers, these women proudly declared, “We refuse to be your mammies, nannies, aunties, uncles, girls, handmaidens any longer.”
With compelling personal stories of the leaders and participants on the front lines, Household Workers Unite gives voice to the poor women of color whose dedicated struggle for higher wages, better working conditions, and respect on the job created a sustained political movement that endures today.
“Here at last is the story that finally positions black domestic workers at the center of mid-twentieth-century civil rights and anti-racist movement history. In the process of fighting for their rights as citizen-workers, the women whose phenomenal lives are explored in Household Workers Unite forged a legacy that deeply informs our social justice struggles today.” —Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
“As the ugliness of racism today wrenches our hearts, rendering a feeling of helplessness, it is restorative to learn about the empowering leadership of black women domestic workers and civil rights activists who have helped change laws and policies—and to whom we are all indebted.” —Sheila Bapat, Feministing
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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