Bridging the Gap: Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement
Most Americans understand the civil rights movement through a lens of collective efforts yielding a positive outcome for all African Americans. In reality, much of the Black community was excluded from both the objectives and public image of the main civil rights movement. As scholars continue to unearth Black women’s contributions to the civil rights movement, it becomes apparent that Black women strategically maneuvered the organizational structure to best serve all Black people. My paper draws on Belinda Robnett’s bridge leadership theory to analyze various speeches and initiatives by three Black women in the civil rights movement—Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Ella Baker— exploring how Black women leveraged their positionality within the movement to include and uplift the entire Black community.
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