"This book is a serious scholarly contribution to the field of peace and women’s history, and the author is to be commended for her efforts."—Journal of Cold War Studies
"Plastas’s meticulous research opens our eyes to the ways that black and white women came together and worked collectively on behalf of progressive change, both at home and abroad. A Band of Noble Women not only transforms our understanding of the history of the peace movement and interracial activism, but also inspires us to believe in future possibilities."—Leila J. Rupp, author of Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women’s Movement
A Band of Noble Women brings together the histories of the women’s peace movement and the black women’s club and social reform movement in a story of community and consciousness building between the world wars. Believing that achievement of improved race relations was a central step in establishing world peace, African American and white women initiated new political alliances that challenged the practices of Jim Crow segregation and promoted the leadership of women in transnational politics. Under the auspices of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), they united the artistic agenda of the Harlem Renaissance, suffrage-era organizing tactics, and contemporary debates on race in their efforts to expand women’s influence on the politics of war and peace.
Plastas shows how WILPF espoused middle-class values and employed gendered forms of organization building, educating thousands of people on issues ranging from U.S. policies in Haiti and Liberia to the need for global disarmament. Highlighting WILPF chapters in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Baltimore, the author examines the successes of this interracial movement as well as its failures. A Band of Noble Women enables us to examine more fully the history of race in U.S. women’s movements and illuminates the role of the women’s peace movement in setting the foundation for the civil rights movement.
Melinda Plastas is visiting assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program and the Department of Politics at Bates College in Maine. Her research interests include the politics of race and gender in U.S. women’s social movements.
6 x 9, 336 pages