Michelle Obama’s speech at #DNC2012 reminded me of Black Women’s Club Movement

Posted on September 6, 2012. Filed under: Women's history |

via History News Network, which quotes the best line in Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC convention: “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

HNN traces this view to the Progressive Era, which spread the message that “Lack of success was a sign of failure not by the individual but by societal structures and institutions that limited the individual’s opportunities, no matter how hard he or she worked. . . in the Progressives’ view, the helping hand had to be extended by the body politic as a whole. And the obvious agent of the body politic is government.”

Excellent points.  Furthermore, I think  the First Lady’s remarks harken back to a specific organization that originated in the Progressive era and continues today — the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.  The organization’s motto — “Lifting As We Climb” — reflected their belief that their work didn’t end with self-improvement: they had a duty to uplift their communities as well as themselves.

Now, Michelle Obama didn’t mention race in her speech.  Perhaps, as Sophia Nelson has argued, she didn’t need to. Still, it’s worth placing her words within a longer tradition of black women’s activism.

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Archives

  • Knitting Clio

  • del.icio.us

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 597 other followers

  • Creative Commons

  • about.me

    Heather Munro Prescott

    Heather Munro Prescott

    Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT.

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 597 other followers

%d bloggers like this: