Whether in popular culture, academic research, or public consciousness, African American women are often defined by their presumed poverty or lack of education. In this unique antidote to public perception, Kathleen F. Slevin and C. Ray Wingrove focus on the experiences of an unusual group of pioneers: one of the first generations of African American women to work as white-collar professionals, retire in considerable comfort, and remain actively and fruitfully involved, as older women, in their respective communities.
Through the voices of these women, we come to understand the impact of social systems on individual lives and to appreciate how the legacies provided these women by their families, teachers, churches, and communities endowed them with the survival tools needed to succeed, despite the prejudice and stumbling blocks they encountered along the way. Slevin and Wingrove explore how the lessons of childhood–choosing battles, avoiding hurtful Whites, striving for economic independence, and projecting self-confidence and racial pride–translate to adulthood as they recount the ups and downs of being successful African American women.
Kathleen F. Slevin is Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of William and Mary. C. Ray Wingrove is Professor of Sociology at the University of Richmond.