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Black Women's Christian ActivismSeeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb$
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Betty Livingston Adams

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780814745465

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814745465.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

“Please Allow Me Space”

“Please Allow Me Space”

Race and Faith in the Suburbs

(p.17) 1 “Please Allow Me Space”
Black Women's Christian Activism

Betty Livingston Adams

NYU Press

This chapter explores the role of black working women in racial construction and black church formation in the North. Black women transgressed boundaries and disrupted the politics of respectability by building churches and sustaining communities. Though integral to the Northern expansion of independent denominations and residential suburbs, their public presence conflicted with the ecclesial and political aims of black male church leaders and the domestic ideals of white middle-class suburbanites. Violet Johnson, a domestic servant, had to fight for a woman’s place in the church and a place for the church she founded in the overwhelmingly white suburb in which she lived and worked. In the interconnected web of race, gender, and class, a sacred place and suburban space emerged as sites of contestation in the wake of Southern disenfranchisement and the nationalization of Jim Crow segregation.

Keywords:   black church, domestic ideals, Jim Crow, politics of respectability, public presence, racial construction, Southern disenfranchisement, suburb

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