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An Unseen LightBlack Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee$
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Aram Goudsouzian and Charles W. McKinney Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175515

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175515.001.0001

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Power and Protection

Power and Protection

Gender and Black Working-Class Protest Narratives, 1940–1948

(p.150) Power and Protection
An Unseen Light

Laurie B. Green

University Press of Kentucky

Gender bound together labor and civil rights, serving as a key axis in the struggles for racial justice from World War II to the 1968 sanitation workers strike, including the tragic murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although the conflicts addressed in this essay are crucial to understanding the dramatic events of the later 1960s, they are usually obscured by national civil rights narratives that emphasize desegregation and voting rights, thereby pushing issues reflecting the intersection of labor, racial justice, and gender to the sidelines. This essay highlights conflicts ranging from the denial of World War II defense work, other than menial labor, to African American women to the support movement for the sanitation workers. In placing themselves quite literally on the front lines of that movement, women articulated their own interpretations of the strike’s slogan, “I am a man!” in relation to their own struggles as working women, mothers, and community activists.

Keywords:   Martin Luther King, sanitation workers strike, gender, racial justice, women

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