by Natanya Duncan
UNIA women defied prescribed notions of domestic duty; blurred the lines drawn for “true” women in the early 20th Century; derived their respectability through a practice of nationalist politics in public places resulting in an efficient womanhood that set the stage for what are now known as womanist consciousness and black feminist politics. While UNIA women helped set the stage for the development of the latter ideals and in varying ways demonstrated the virtues of the “Cult of True Womanhood” and “the politics of respectability,” their activism reached further than expressions of Victorian Motherhood and their endeavor to lift as they climbed meant leaving no person of African descent behind. At times their tactics seem to contradict their aims and the results of their efforts were not always immediately evident. Still, their all encompassing visionary approach to race progress reveals another root of the nascent Civil Rights Movement tree that is in need of both study and nurture.
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Keywords: womanist, UNIA, Civil Rights Movement, black consciousness