“When and Where I Enter”: The National Council of Negro Women, Black Women’s Organizing Power, and the Fight to End Hunger

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines the food politics of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), a prominent Black women’s organization, founded in 1935. I argue that the council used an intimate knowledge of themselves, Black women, and the South to transgress a hostile landscape and protect themselves and Black people. I make this argument by examining the words of their founder Mary McLeod Bethune, their 1960s activism, their hunger campaign, and other historical documents. For NCNW, respectability was not meant to silence their voices, but rather to allow them a thin veil of protection not given to Black women. First, I detail the history of the organization, its emphasis on making Black women a part of the U.S. democracy, and their work to end hunger. Second, I conceptually explore Black women’s inward and outward gaze, which includes some Black women’s strategic use of respectability politics to uphold moral values and their grounded knowledge of the South, its land and its people. Third, I consider how NCNW used their inward and outward gaze to make change and end hunger among Black people in the South. Finally, I conclude with thoughts on how we might understand the current political organizing power of Black women within a model for which NCNW created much of the groundwork.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2486-2500
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Volume112
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by American Association of Geographers.

Keywords

  • Black geographies
  • Black women
  • food
  • gaze
  • respectability politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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