"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dealing with the Contradictions and Infrastructure Building: Racial division within the Suffrage Movment

A Daily Kos post provides some insight into the racial divisions within the women's suffrage movement (and a variety of suggested resources).  From the point of view of how this contributed to building a social movement, one can see the importance of dealing with the contradictions within the movement.  For example,Stanton and Anthony allying with racist Democrats in the hopes of recruiting white southern women to their suffrage movement.  Where did this put William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells and the thousands and thousands upon thousands of other suffragists who believed that black women should stand shoulder to shoulder with white women in the fight for the vote for women?  Creating alternative organizations like sororities at black female colleges and the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs is mentioned is this blog post. 

Nancy Robertson has written a brilliant book that illustrates how the YWCA dealt with these contradictions in a manner that led that organization being a crucial part of the fundamental infrastructure that supported not only the Southern Freedom Movement but the modern women's movement as well. READ  Christian Sisterhood, Race Relations, and the YWCA, 1906-46 (can be borrowed from the SFFS library)

Key Components of a successful social movement:
  • identifying the problem
  • doing your homework (research)
  • personal relationship and community building,
  • building an infrastructure,
  • development of local leadership,
  • creating coalitions,
  • strategic use of the arts,
  • strategic use of nonviolent direct resistance,
  • learning how to deal with the contradictions within the movement,
  • and being in the right historical moment.

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