Complete Story


How Black Washerwomen in the South Became Pioneers of American Labor

In modern terms, these women were independent contractors

This article was adapted from the forthcoming book “Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor,” by Kim Kelly, to be published by One Signal Publishers/Atria Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc. Copyright © 2022 by Kim Kelly. Printed by permission.

There is no one location or event that can lay a definitive claim to the founding of the American labor movement, but what is certain is the enormous debt it owes to women.

During the Victorian era, in the words of Bowling Green University's Susan M. Cruea, "Upper- and middle-class women's choices were limited to marriage and motherhood, or spinsterhood." Waged labor was seen as the exclusive realm of men, and for most middle- and upper-class women, the thought of earning money for their toil was wholly foreign.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Washington Post.

Printer-Friendly Version