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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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“A Great Work for God and Humanity”

“A Great Work for God and Humanity”

African American Christian Women and Organized Social Reform

(p.38) 2 “A Great Work for God and Humanity”
Black Women's Christian Activism

Betty Livingston Adams

NYU Press

This chapter traces the contingent organizational strategies black church women deployed in response to the race problem and the woman question. As independent black churches followed domestic workers to New York City’s emerging suburbs, the work of the church and the public presence of the race fell largely to working women whose organized rescue work and Bible Bands subverted the denomination’s class-bound political objectives. Although white women and black ministers considered them “women adrift” in need of social reform, black church women viewed their dignity and protection as a Christian duty and a racial imperative. They imbricated Victorian ideology, Woman’s Era philosophy, and egalitarian Christian principles to advance their own model of womanhood through their missionary societies, the WCTU, and the national Woman’s Convention. The arc of their Christian activism moved from missionary societies to temperance unions to secular women’s clubs.

Keywords:   Bible Bands, missionary societies, rescue work, Victorian ideology, WCTU, woman question, Woman’s Convention, Woman’s Era philosophy, women adrift

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