In the new book Church Ladies: Untold Stories of Harlem Women in the Powell Era by renowned scholar and historian Dr. Martia Goodson, featuring a foreword written by Adam Clayton Powell III and numerous rare archival photographs, readers will meet fifteen extraordinary women who left their spiritual and historical imprints on Harlem’s formidable Abyssinian Baptist Church, their surrounding communities, and the nation at large. Dr. Goodson, who specializes in African American oral history and is the author of New York’s African Burial Ground, interviewed these church ladies extensively over the course of a decade, from 1992 until 2002 about topics ranging from the oratory and sartorial splendor of Powell Sr.’s ministry, to Powell Jr.’s political career and activism, to the Civil Rights Movement, to their jobs and families, to how they each confronted and combatted racism in her life’s journey.
Dr. Goodson also conducted years of research through the Abyssinian Baptist Church archives, creating an engaging, page-turning historical record that will serve as a resource for historians, educators, and countless others for decades to come. Although only two of the women remain, their unique voices are alive with rich and vibrant accounts that take readers to a period that stretches back to the 1920s during Adam Clayton Powell Sr.’s “Church of the Classes,” to the era of Powell Jr.’s “Church of the Masses”, and extends to the early 1970s around the time of Powell Jr.’s death.
“I am extremely proud of this work and feel that it’s some of the most significant research that I’ve done to date,” says Dr. Goodson. “These women tell their own stories and in doing so, give voice to the history of Abyssinian and to the Powell Era in ways that others cannot…CHURCH LADIES is twentieth-century American history – seen through the eyes of the women of a black church. It is formed from the reminiscences of solid women: dignified, modest, hardworking, poised, imaginative, and intolerant of continued second-class citizenship.”
- Political Science / General
- Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
- Social Science / Women’s Studies
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