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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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“Carthage Must Be Destroyed”

“Carthage Must Be Destroyed”

Health, Housing, and the New Deal

(p.127) 6 “Carthage Must Be Destroyed”
Black Women's Christian Activism

Betty Livingston Adams

NYU Press

This chapter discusses black church women’s activism under the stress of the Great Depression and New Deal, social and economic dislocations that turned black housing and black bodies into contested sites. In the politics of health and housing, white and black suburbanites appropriated New Deal language and formulated competing narratives of citizenship and rights: black residents conflated personal responsibility and government-directed structural intervention to make their claim for civil rights; white middle-class homeowners’ associations cast black residents as inimical to the suburb’s civic and economic security. Despite the popularity of taxpayer-funded National Housing Acts, anti-syphilis campaigns, and racial covenants and local zoning and health ordinances that reinforced the trope of the suburb as a white middle-class preserve, black women staved off imminent threats of racial cleansing and educated a new generation of women in the struggle for social justice.

Keywords:   anti-syphilis campaign, civil rights, homeowners’ associations, National Housing Acts, New Deal language, politics of health, politics of housing, racial cleansing, racial covenants

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