At the greatest moments and in the cruelest times, black women have been a crucial part of America's history. Now, the inspiring history of black women in America is explored in vivid detail by two leaders in the fields of African American and women's history.
A Shining Thread of Hope chronicles the lives of black women from indentured servitude in the early American colonies to the cruelty of antebellum plantations, from the reign of lynch law in the Jim Crow South to the triumphs of the Civil Rights era, and it illustrates how the story of black women in America is as much a tale of courage and hope as it is a history of struggle. On both an individual and a collective level, A Shining Thread of Hope reveals the strength and spirit of black women and brings their stories from the fringes of American history to a central position in our understanding of the forces and events that have shaped this country.
This history of the experience of black women opens with an account of the life of Lucy Terry, who was brought as a slave to Deerfield, Massachusetts, when she was a child in about 1735. At 16, Terry wrote a poem, "Bars Fight," the first work of literature by a black American. Years later, married and free, Terry argued for the admission of her son to Williams College and, when a white man tried to take her family's land, she took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Terry's story is typical of those in A Shining Thread of Hope, which brings together centuries of achievement by black women. As coauthors Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson put it, "The extraordinary achievements of black women in the 19th and 20th centuries did not grow out of degradation but out of a legacy of courage, resourcefulness, initiative, and dignity that goes back to 1619."