Words of Witness
Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown Era
Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, Series Editor
Finalist for Women’s Studies, Foreword INDIE Book Awards
“Ambitious, timely, engaging, and provocative. Angela Ards, erudite
and remarkably widely read, situates her analysis of a new political
ethic grounded in black women’s experience at the intersection of
autobiography studies, feminism, black literary history, and cultural and
A literary and political genealogy of the last half-century, Words of Witness explores black feminist autobiographical narratives in the context of activism and history since the landmark 1954 segregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. Angela A. Ards examines how activist writers, especially five whose memoirs were published in the 1990s and 2000s, crafted these life stories to engage and shape progressive, post-Brown politics.
Exploring works by the critically acclaimed June Jordan and Edwidge Danticat, as well as by popular and emerging authors such as Melba Beals, Rosemary Bray, and Eisa Davis, Ards demonstrates how each text asserts countermemories to official—and often nostalgic—understandings of the civil rights and Black Power movements. She situates each writer as activist-citizen, adopting and remaking particular roles—warrior, “the least of these,” immigrant, hip-hop head—to crystallize a range of black feminist responses to urgent but unresolved political issues.
“This powerful exploration of the narratives of five women to understand the role of black feminist activism pushes readers to consider the role of storytelling in history.”
—RGWS: A Feminist Review
Of Related Interest
LC: 2015009297 PS
250 pp. 6 x 9