Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States, Women on 2014-06-13 21:29Z by Steven

Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America

New York University Press
February 2009
325 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780814757307
Paper ISBN: 9780814764343

Keren R. McGinity, Author-Educator
Love & Tradition: intermarriage insights for a Jewish future

Over the last century, American Jews married outside their religion at increasing rates. By closely examining the intersection of intermarriage and gender across the twentieth century, Keren R. McGinity describes the lives of Jewish women who intermarried while placing their decisions in historical context. The first comprehensive history of these intermarried women, Still Jewish is a multigenerational study combining in-depth personal interviews and an astute analysis of how interfaith relationships and intermarriage were portrayed in the mass media, advice manuals, and religious community-generated literature.

Still Jewish dismantles assumptions that once a Jew intermarries, she becomes fully assimilated into the majority Christian population, religion, and culture. Rather than becoming “lost” to the Jewish community, women who intermarried later in the century were more likely to raise their children with strong ties to Judaism than women who intermarried earlier in the century. Bringing perennially controversial questions of Jewish identity, continuity, and survival to the forefront of the discussion, Still Jewish addresses topics of great resonance in a diverse America.

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Meeting with Dagmar Schultz and Ria Cheatom

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Women on 2014-06-12 14:20Z by Steven

Meeting with Dagmar Schultz and Ria Cheatom

FemGeniuses: Where feminism meets genius!
2014-05-29

Kaimara Herron

It is only the first week of our stay in Berlin, but it feels like an eternity since my plane took-off from O’Hare. But this is certainly not a complaint. We have had the opportunity to do such amazing things in only a few short days, and we have so much more to do.

This morning, we started the day in the classroom at Frauenkreise to talk with Dagmar Schultz and Ria Cheatom about their film Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years, 1984 to 1992, which documents their lives as activists and their work in the Afro-German feminist movement. Melissa began our discussion by asking about Audre Lorde’s experiences living with cancer while continuing to work in Berlin. More specifically, Melissa was interested in Lorde’s use of holistic treatments in Berlin instead of conventional methods to treat her cancer. Dagmar’s response was that Lorde never wanted to stop working because it was, and continues to be, a necessary movement. Dagmar believes Berlin had become Lorde’s replacement for New York City, as her work in Berlin became central in her life…

…As the conversation moved along, we started talking about the first few meetings between Afro-German women and Audre Lorde. Ria offered an anecdote about how she had trouble accepting some of the women who attended these meetings as “real” Afro-Germans because of their really light skin and strong European facial features. The topic of color and skin tone was first brought to my attention while reading a section of May Ayim’s Blues in Black and White: A Collection of Essays, Poetry, and Conversations. In “White Stress/Black Nerves,” she briefly mentions how the benefits of privilege become more complicated when examining the experiences of Black and immigrant women based on skin tone…

Read the entire article here.

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The “Passing” of Elsie Roxborough

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2014-06-05 01:50Z by Steven

The “Passing” of Elsie Roxborough

Michigan Quarterly Review
Volume 23, Issue 2 (Spring 1984)
pages 155-170
ISSN 0026-2420 (Print)
ISSN 1558-7266 (Online)

Kathleen A. Hauke (1935-2004)

Driving her fashionable Ford roadster from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Elsie Roxborough arrived at the University of Michigan as a freshman fifty years ago last fall. She was the first Negro student to live in a University dormitory. Her classmate Arthur Miller, an aspiring playwright and fellow reporter on the campus newspaper, called her “a beauty, the most striking girl in Ann Arbor. She was light-skinned and very classy. To a kid like me, she seemed svelte, knowing, witty, sexy.” With her own group in Detroit, the Roxane Players, she produced Langston Hughes’s play Drums of Haiti, and charmed Hughes as she had charmed boxer Joe Louis some years earlier. Elsie Roxborough was “the girl I was in love with” in 1937, Hughes wrote in his autobiography. Upon graduation, Roxborough “passed” into the white world. The next time most of her friends heard of her was in 1949 when an eight-column headline in the black newspaper Michigan Chronicle announced her death from an overdose of sleeping pills. Hughes kept her photograph over his writing table for the rest of his life.

Who was Elsie Roxborough? What became of her, and what did she represent? A piecing together of her life suggests that her fate was to dramatize the truth of Hughes’s poem “House in the World”:

I’m looking for a house
In the world
Where the white shadows
Will not fall.

There is no house,
Dark brother,
No such house
At all.

Elsie Roxborough started out to shake the stigma of color; when that proved impossible, she joined step with the oppressor. Her life as a disguised alien in the middle reaches of the white social register did not satisfy her ambition or her pride. Perhaps no happy ending awaited her. The welcome thawings of racial prejudice after the war, and the first signs of a civil rights movement, would only have mocked and embittered her in the years of her deception. A happy child become desperate, she is a case study of the “dark sister” excluded by the American Dream…

Read the entire article here.

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Radmilla’s Voice: Music Genre, Blood Quantum, and Belonging on the Navajo Nation

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2014-05-26 05:46Z by Steven

Radmilla’s Voice: Music Genre, Blood Quantum, and Belonging on the Navajo Nation

Cultural Anthropology
Volume 29, Issu3 2 (May 2014)
pages 385-410
DOI: 10.14506/ca29.2.11

Kristina Jacobsen-Bia, Assistant Professor of Music
University of New Mexico

Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona, September 1997. A young woman butchers a sheep as the crowd at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds watches. Her hair tied back in a tsiiyéél, a woman’s hair bun, she wears a velvet top, silver concho belt, long satin skirt, and leather moccasins—the markers of traditional Navajo femininity. As she expertly slits the sheep’s throat to begin the arduous process of dissecting the animal, her skirt remains spotless: Not a drop of blood touches it.

Sheep butchering, a traditional Navajo art of subsistence, constitutes the first part of the Navajo Nation’s annual Miss Navajo pageant. The second is singing, and the same young woman—Radmilla Cody—performs a traditional “skip dance” song in the Navajo language. But something makes her performance different. As Radmilla’s voice carries across the fairground, she adds melismas, or vocal flourishes, note glides, and a bluesy inflection to the more nasal sound of traditional skip dance songs, which are typically sung by men (McAllester 1954). Onlookers cock their heads to listen more closely, and they hear for the first time the singer who will become known as the “Navajo Whitney Houston.” The crowd responds ecstatically; Radmilla, a twenty-one-year-old from Grand Falls, Navajo Nation, is publicly crowned the forty-sixth Miss Navajo Nation, 1997–1998.

When I introduced myself in Navajo to Radmilla in 2011 at a CD signing (for I had long been a fan of her music), she seemed amused to hear an Anglo, a bilagáana, speaking her language. She joked that we try performing some skip dance songs together in a perhaps improbable duo—a white woman and she, a half-black, half-Navajo one, performing old Navajo standards. As she autographed a glossy poster for my friend’s nine-year-old niece, who is of mixed Navajo, Korean, and French descent, she wrote in flowing cursive: “Beautiful you are! Many blessings to you. Always remember that, and walk in beauty.”

Radmilla dramatically broke the mold in more ways than one. There was, most obviously, her distinctive, hybrid singing at the intersection of Navajo tradition and African American rhythm and blues; that style reflected Radmilla’s own mixed heritage: she was the child of a Navajo (Tł’ááshchí’í clan) mother and a Naakai Łizhinii, or African American, father. In the documentary Hearing Radmilla (2010), she recalled being singled out as a child living on the Navajo reservation for her African American appearance, being perceived as different from other Navajos. There was also the later denouement to Radmilla’s story, her arrest in 2003 for aiding an abusive, drug-selling boyfriend and her subsequent attempt to rehabilitate her public image as a good citizen of the Navajo tribe. Fully fluent in Navajo and a citizen of the Navajo Nation, she embodied a unique story, and Radmilla’s voice became a lightning rod for reflection and debate about the twenty-first-century politics of race, blood, music genre, and belonging in Navajo country.

What, then, does Radmilla’s story reveal about the relationship between sound, racial identity, and blood quantum on the Navajo Nation? And what, in particular, can be said about the role of the singing voice in the politics of indigeneity? In this article, I use two case studies to show the tensions still surrounding black-Native parentage in Native American communities such as the Navajo (or Diné)5 and analyze reactions to Radmilla’s voice as a partial reflection of larger racial stereotypes about blackness and criminality that permeate U.S. society. These ideas tie crucially into issues of tribal citizenship in Native North America in the era of casinos, where the affective and political stakes of belonging have been dramatically raised, and citizenship and enrollment have come to signify more rigid demarcations between who belongs and who does not. Second, I demonstrate how sound itself becomes an “ethnic trope,” defined as symbols constructed as “allusions toward an ideal that has no living model” (Fast 2002, 23), where voice, musical genre, phenotype, and heritage-language skills index a speaker as more or less “authentically” Diné. Here, I distinguish sound from music, defining sound as a broader framework encompassing both music and language, which allows me to talk about the singing and speaking voice within a single frame. In Radmilla’s case, the supposedly black dimensions of both her phenotype and her traditional singing were used to single her out as less than fully Navajo. And, both in her crowning and in her run-in with the law, Radmilla’s identity as a celebrity gained what Daphne Patai (qtd. in Starn 2011, 123) has called “surplus visibility” about racial matters, “always put on the spot when controversy arises.”

Using my own fieldwork singing and playing with the Navajo country-western group, Native Country Band, as a counterpoint to Radmilla’s experience, I examine how individual and collective voices become marked by racial identities. On the one hand, her voice, perceived racial identity, and idiosyncratic singing style designated Radmilla as a cultural outsider. At the same time, in other contexts and because of her ability to broker generational differences in her choice of recorded material, her voice was celebrated as being quintessentially Navajo, securing her insider status as a Diné citizen. Bringing sound into conversations about blood, belonging, and indigeneity, I show how racial identities become marked and investigate the role played by voice in this marking. Music and language both reflect and reinforce ideas of inclusion, exclusion, and communal reckoning in contemporary Navajo communities and in U.S. society at large (Harkness 2010; Feld et al. 2004). My larger contention becomes, in the case of Radmilla, the Navajo Nation, and the U.S. nation, that aesthetics—and voice and sound in particular—matter in relation to politics, albeit often in divergent ways and on differing scales…

Read the entire article here.

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Learning from the Collusions, Collisions, and Contentions with White Privilege Experienced in the United States by White Mothers of Sons and Daughters whose Race is not White

Posted in Dissertations, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States, Women on 2014-05-15 16:05Z by Steven

Learning from the Collusions, Collisions, and Contentions with White Privilege Experienced in the United States by White Mothers of Sons and Daughters whose Race is not White

Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2014
405 pages
ATI Number: 3614469

Jennifer Lee Slye Chandler

The purpose of this study was to collect and examine stories from women who identify as White in the United States who are mothers whose sons and daughters they do not identify as White. The stories collected are about their interactions as White women (who are mothers of daughters and sons who are not White) with family, friends, strangers, doctors, daycare providers, teachers, and principals. Their stories are also about their thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions regarding themselves as White and as mothers. The research question was: How is White privilege manifested in the lives of White women who are mothers of daughters and sons who they do not identify as White?

Based on interviews with thirty White mothers whose sons and daughters they do not identify as White living in twenty-four locations across the United States interviewed over an eight month period, three manifestations of White privilege were identified and analyzed: collusions, collisions, and contentions. These three social processes were incorporated into Harro’s (2013) cycle of socialization. The findings from the current study were correlated with findings from prior studies of White privilege with White mothers of daughters and sons who they do not identify as White and also with the findings from studies with White teachers. The conclusions from this study support recommendations in three areas of theory: (1) updating theories on White privilege; (2) updating one of the tenets of Critical Race Theory; and (3) updating theories on motherhood. The conclusions from this study support also recommendations in three areas of research: (1) research on White privilege; (2) research on teacher preparation; and (3) research on motherhood.

Purchase the dissertation here.

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Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 by Dagmar Schultz (review)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Gay & Lesbian, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Women on 2014-05-05 17:30Z by Steven

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 by Dagmar Schultz (review)

African Studies Review
Volume 57, Number 1, April 2014
pages 237-238
DOI: 10.1353/arw.2014.0038

Patricia-Pia Célérier, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 is a 79-minute documentary in English and German, directed and produced by Dagmar Schultz. An academic and close friend of Lorde’s, Schultz also co-edited (with May Opitz and Katharina Oguntoye) the book Farbe Bekennen: Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (1986; translated as Showing our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out, University of Massachusetts Press, 1991), which marked the beginning of the “Afro-German movement.” Schultz contributed her own archival video and audio recordings and footage to the documentary, adding testimonies from Lorde’s colleagues, students, and friends. Released in 2012, twenty years after Lorde’s death, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 is an homage to the African American writer’s tremendous contributions as well as a useful complement to two other documentaries: A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde (1995) by Ada Gray Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, and The Edge of Each Other’s Battles: The Vision of Audre Lorde (2002) by Jennifer Abod. Schultz’s film has attracted significant attention and received the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Barcelona Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 focuses on an understudied period in the life of the prolific author and activist, the time when she traveled between the U.S. and Germany to lecture and visit friends. It features her relationship to the black diaspora and her mentoring role in the development of the antiracist struggle and the Afro-German movement before and after the German reunification. In true feminist fashion, the documentary links the personal and the political, representing Lorde’s ongoing fight against cancer, her inspiring presence at feminist consciousness-raising meetings, her carefree dancing at multiracial lesbian parties, and her partnership with the poet Gloria I. Joseph.

The film highlights Lorde’s part in building bridges among women of color, feminist, and LGBT social justice movements, in “hyphenating” black Germans. In doing so, it contextualizes the history of major cultural shifts in the late ’80s/early ’90s in Germany. It speaks to audiences both familiar and unfamiliar with Lorde’s work by articulating themes that are at the core of the writer’s production: for instance, the meaning of intimacy and sharing, and the radical role a creative understanding of difference plays in personal and intellectual growth.

Although valuable as a testimonial and politically committed film, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 unfortunately lacks a strong coherent form, its point of view neither sufficiently clear nor technically grounded. Because the filmmaker does not provide a theoretical or narrative perspective (apart from documenting Lorde’s life), the archival images and interviews overtake the film, which in turn seems dated, as if it had been produced twenty years ago. The viewer is not pulled into the story early enough, and the editing does not compensate imaginatively for the somewhat haphazard manner with which the documentary proceeds.

Should we consider, nevertheless, that the historical and political value of such a film overrides issues of filmic quality and narrative coherence, especially because it was made on a tight budget and is a labor of love? A documentary cannot be considered as merely reproducing cultural (feminist, Afro-German, LGBT) meaning, but also as creating (new) meaning. Unfortunately, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 does not sufficiently demonstrate an awareness of the different ways of understanding and theorizing women’s lives that are available today. As a recording of social life and a travelogue, it does accomplish the two goals of the documentary genre: it informs and educates. Like feminist films of the 1970s, it celebrates the clamor of women’s voices and the rising up of women of color and gay women. It sheds light on the diversity of women’s lifestyles and choices and the issues in gay politics. But how do these images of Lorde inform our current understanding of feminism and feminist practices? What spaces does Lorde’s legacy occupy today? These questions are not answered by the film. In addition, because it does not suggest an awareness of the discursive and technical changes that have advanced the…

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“Split At The Root”: The Reformation of The Mulatto Hero/Heroine

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2014-05-01 19:13Z by Steven

“Split At The Root”: The Reformation of The Mulatto Hero/Heroine

AmeriQuests (Online)
Vanderbilt University
Volume 6, Number 1
2008-11-18

Tia L. Gafford, Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies
Mercer University

Frances E. W. Harper’s Iola Leroy offers a valuable insight on the development of a holistic and natural model for patriarchy in the 19th century. Harper combines normally diametrically opposed ideologies of masculinity and femininely in the characters of Dr. Frank Latimer and Iola Leroy who become cultural heros/heroines by embracing a Black consciousness. By addressing what she considers to be a more cohesive productive society, Harper contextualizes the mulatto racial and social visions against the backdrop of the post-Reconstruction South. Within this new radical mixed race, Dr. Latimer and Iola Leroy rescues this normative stereotypical version and redefines them as the pre-cursors of Alain Locke’s “New Negro.” By rejecting whiteness as a mean to emancipate themselves out of an otherwise racial bondage, Iola Leroy and Dr. Latimer embrace the “one drop” rule. By “casting themselves” into the racial “pot,” Harper sets the mulatto up to ideally “work for the people.”

Read the entire article in HTML or PDF format.

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Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Women on 2014-04-21 01:46Z by Steven

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

Slate
2014-04-18

Rebecca Onion

To prove that racial harmony was possible, the dancer adopted 12 children from around the globe—and charged admission to watch them coexist.

Beginning in 1953, almost 30 years after her first successful performances on the Paris stage, the singer and dancer Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from different countries, ranging from Finland to Venezuela. She installed what she called her “Rainbow Tribe” in a 15th-century chateau in the South of France and charged admission to tourists who came to hear them sing, to tour their home, or to watch them play leapfrog in their garden.

This little-known chapter in Baker’s life is an uncomfortable one. “I would begin to tell the story of Josephine Baker, and people would start to laugh,” says Matthew Pratt Guterl, the author of a new book on Baker’s later life, Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe. “And I would start to wonder what that laughter signified.” Guterl, a professor of Africana studies and American studies at Brown University, has in essence written two books in one: the story of Baker’s family, and a meditation on the meaning of that laughter…

Read the entire review here.

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Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject

Posted in Biography, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Women on 2014-04-04 18:10Z by Steven

Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject

Duke University Press
2010
344 pages
51 illustrations, incl. 18 in color
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4247-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-4266-3

Kirsten Pai Buick, Associate Professor of Art History
University of New Mexico

Child of the Fire is the first book-length examination of the career of the nineteenth-century artist Mary Edmonia Lewis, best known for her sculptures inspired by historical and biblical themes. Throughout this richly illustrated study, Kirsten Pai Buick investigates how Lewis and her work were perceived, and their meanings manipulated, by others and the sculptor herself. She argues against the racialist art discourse that has long cast Lewis’s sculptures as reflections of her identity as an African American and Native American woman who lived most of her life abroad. Instead, by seeking to reveal Lewis’s intentions through analyses of her career and artwork, Buick illuminates Lewis’s fraught but active participation in the creation of a distinct “American” national art, one dominated by themes of indigeneity, sentimentality, gender, and race. In so doing, she shows that the sculptor variously complicated and facilitated the dominant ideologies of the vanishing American (the notion that Native Americans were a dying race), sentimentality, and true womanhood.

Buick considers the institutions and people that supported Lewis’s career—including Oberlin College, abolitionists in Boston, and American expatriates in Italy—and she explores how their agendas affected the way they perceived and described the artist. Analyzing four of Lewis’s most popular sculptures, each created between 1866 and 1876, Buick discusses interpretations of Hiawatha in terms of the cultural impact of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha; Forever Free and Hagar in the Wilderness in light of art historians’ assumptions that artworks created by African American artists necessarily reflect African American themes; and The Death of Cleopatra in relation to broader problems of reading art as a reflection of identity.

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Preface. Framing the Problem: American Africanisms, American Indianisms, and the Processes of Art History
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Inventing the Artist: Locating the Black and Catholic Subject
  • 2. The “Problem” of Art History’s Black Subject
  • 3. Longfellow, Lewis, and the Cultural Work of Hiawatha
  • 4. Identity, Tautology, and The Death of Cleopatra
  • Conclusion. Separate and Unequal: Toward a More Responsive and Responsible Art History
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Daughter of the Empire State: The Life of Judge Jane Bolin

Posted in Biography, Books, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2014-03-30 14:58Z by Steven

Daughter of the Empire State: The Life of Judge Jane Bolin

University of Illinois Press
December 2011
168 pages
6 x 9 in.
4 black & white photographs
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-03657-6
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-252-09361-6

Jacqueline A. McLeod, Associate Professor of History and African & African American Studies
Metropolitan State College of Denver

The trailblazing work of the first African American woman judge

This long overdue biography of the nation’s first African American woman judge elevates Jane Matilda Bolin to her rightful place in American history as an activist, integrationist, jurist, and outspoken public figure in the political and professional milieu of New York City before the onset of the modern Civil Rights movement.

Bolin was appointed to New York City’s domestic relations court in 1939 for the first of four ten-year terms. When she retired in 1978, her career had extended well beyond the courtroom. Drawing on archival materials as well as a meeting with Bolin in 2002, historian Jacqueline A. McLeod reveals how Bolin parlayed her judicial position to impact significant reforms of the legal and social service system in New York.

Beginning with Bolin’s childhood and educational experiences at Wellesley and Yale, Daughter of the Empire State chronicles Bolin’s relatively quick rise through the ranks of a profession that routinely excluded both women and African Americans. Deftly situating Bolin’s experiences within the history of black women lawyers and the historical context of high-achieving black New Englanders, McLeod offers a multi-layered analysis of black women’s professionalization in a segregated America.

Linking Bolin’s activist leanings and integrationist zeal to her involvement in the NAACP, McLeod analyzes Bolin’s involvement at the local level as well as her tenure on the organization’s national board of directors. An outspoken critic of the discriminatory practices of New York City’s probation department and juvenile placement facilities, Bolin also co-founded, with Eleanor Roosevelt, the Wiltwyck School for boys in upstate New York and campaigned to transform the Domestic Relations Court with her judicial colleagues. McLeod’s careful and highly readable account of these accomplishments inscribes Bolin onto the roster of important social reformers and early civil rights trailblazers.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Her Standing in Poughkeepsie: Family Lineage and Legacy
  • 2. On Her Own: The Years at Wellesley and Yale
  • 3. Politics of Preparation: The Making of the Nation’s First African American Woman Judge
  • 4. Politics of Practice: An African American Woman Judge on the Domestic Relations Court
  • 5. Speaking Truth to Power: A View from the Benchof Judge Jane Bolin
  • 6. Persona Non Grata: Jane Bolin and the NAACP, 1931–50
  • Epilogue
  • Notes
  • Index
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