2021 NAACP Image Award Nominee: Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction
Honorable Mention for the 2021 Organization of American Historians Darlene Clark Hine Award
A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our country
In centering Black women’s stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women’s unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today.
A Black Women’s History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women’s lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women’s history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation.
Daina Ramey Berry is the Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at UC Santa Cruz. She is the author or co-editor of several previous books, including The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, winner of the 2017 SHEAR Book Award for Early American History. Connect with her at drdainarameyberry.com or @DainaRameyBerry on Twitter.
Kali Nicole Gross is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her previous books include Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, winner of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction. Learn more at kalinicolegross.com or connect with her on Twitter @KaliGrossPhD.
“This book is a font of inspiration . . . A compact, exceptionally diverse introduction to the history of black women in America.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“A substantial addition to popular history. Will likely be well-received by black women seeking better historical representation and by allies looking to educate themselves about black history.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
“A welcome addition to the library of any history enthusiast, A Black Women’s History of the United States is an absorbing read.”
—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
“Captivating, highly readable . . . A timely and much-needed restoration.”
“This book is a gift to anyone interested in a more complete—a more truthful—story about the United States. By starting the history about Black women on this land with us as free people and as people agitating for our freedom, by prioritizing all Black women’s voices and coming up to the present day, Dr. Gross and Dr. Berry illuminate greater possibilities for our collective freedom dreams and struggles for collective liberation.”
—Charlene A. Carruthers, author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements
“A Black Women’s History of the United States is an extraordinary contribution to our collective understanding of the most profound injustices and equalities, as well as the most committed struggles to realize true justice and equality, that have shaped this nation since its birth. Through the courageous and complex voices of black women, and with deft attention to the lives that black women have led from the earliest moments of conquest and colonialism to the dawn of the twenty-first century, historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Gross have utterly upended traditional accounts of the American past in ways most desperately needed in our American present.”
—Heather Ann Thompson, historian and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
“Remarkably comprehensive and accessible, introductory and sophisticated, two ground-breaking historians have come together to produce a ground-breaking new history of Black women in the United States. To know the story of the United States is to know this indispensable story.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
“A powerful and important book that charts the rich and dynamic history of Black women in the United States. It shows how these courageous women challenged racial and gender oppression and boldly asserted their authority and visions of freedom even in the face of resistance. This book is required reading for anyone interested in social justice.”
—Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom
“Black women have always been at the front line of change, and A Black Women’s History of the United States shows us in no uncertain terms that our DNA will have us here sculpting and writing the next chapters. Tell your sisters, mothers, and daughters to get this book for someone they love, because we owe it to ourselves, our daughters, our sons, and our future, to know the history that isn’t being taught in our schools. And it starts with us.”
—Anika Noni Rose, actor, producer, and singer