Virtual Event: Martha S. Jones
How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All
in conversation with NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES
September 8, 2020
7:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes MARTHA S. JONES—Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University—for a discussion of her latest book, Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All. She will be joined in conversation by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Vanguard on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women's movement did not win the vote for most black women. Securing their rights required a movement of their own.
In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women—Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more—who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.
Praise for Vanguard
"Martha Jones is the political historian of African American women. And this book is the commanding history of the remarkable struggle of African American women for political power. The more power they accumulated, the more equality they wrought. All Americans would be better off learning this history and grasping just how much we owe equality's vanguard." —Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
"In her inspiring new book, Vanguard, renowned historian Martha S. Jones gives us a sweeping narrative for our times, grounded in the multi-generational struggle of black women for a freedom and equality that would not only fulfill their rights but galvanize a broader, redemptive movement for human rights everywhere. Through the carefully interwoven stories of famous and forgotten African American women, together representing two hundred years of history, Jones shows how this core of our society—so key to winning elections today—also gave us 'the nation's original feminists and antiracists.' From organizers and institution builders to preachers and writers, journalists and activists, black women found ways to rise up through the twin cracks of race and sex discrimination to elevate democracy as a whole. At a moment when that very democracy is under assault, Vanguard reminds us to look for hope in those most denied it." —Henry Louis Gates Jr.
"You cannot tell the history of modern democracy without the history of Black women, and vibrating through Martha Jones's prose, argument, and evidence is analysis that takes Black women seriously. Vanguard brilliantly lays bare how a full accounting of black women as powerful political actors is both past and prologue. Martha Jones has given us a gift we do not deserve. In that way she is as bold and necessary to our understanding of ourselves as the women in this important work." —Tressie McMillan Cottom, author of Thick: And Other Essays
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