Book Review

Book Review: A Black Women’s History of the United States

Title: A Black Women’s History of the United States

Authors: Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Black History

While all the historic trials, tribulations, and triumphs of Black women in this country cannot be contained between the covers of one book, Berry and Gross did a wonderful job of summarizing the highlights.

A Black Women’s History of the United States unfolds like a timeline, the chapters divided by era: Early Expeditions (before 1619), Exodus out of Africa (1619-1760), Petition for Independence (1760-1820), Expansion of Slavery (1820-1860), Demise of Slavery (1870-1876), Dawning of the Black Women’s Era (1876-1915), Migration & the Depression (1915-1940), Black Women’s War at Home (1940-1950), Jim Crow (1950-1970), and Black Power and Black Feminism (1970-2000). This structure made it possible to see how the lives and efforts of Black women with differing backgrounds were interwoven during a particular time in history. It was interesting seeing how various events were occurring simultaneously, ultimately working in tandem to progress the rights and freedoms of Black women (and men) in the United States.

I appreciated that Berry and Gross did not shy away from detailing the horrific suffering Black women endured at the hands of White racists, the American Government, White feminists, and even Black men, as these facts unfortunately stain most of our history in this country. Even so, I felt that the book achieved a sense of balance by evoking a great sense of pride in me as a reader as I learned more about the strength, intelligence, perseverance, and achievements of Black women like Nannie Helen Burroughs, Harriet Tubman, Maggie Lena Walker, Susie King Taylor, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, and dozens of others ranging from celebrated activists to lesser-known trailblazers.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. To everyone. It is a quick and fascinating read that provides those with little to no knowledge of prominent Black women in American History a crash course on the subject. Even those with an expansive knowledge of Back history will learn something new, as Berry and Gross’ thorough research led them to include intriguing details in their book.

Now that I have completed A Black Women’s History of the United States, I have turned my attention towards researching texts that carefully summarize African and Afro-Caribbean history in a similar way. I would love to learn more about Black history pre-dating 1619 and compare timelines from African and Caribbean countries with that of the United States.

Rating: 5/5

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