Artwork of the Week: March 28, 2022

 In MOA Artwork of the Week

 

Marie A. Hull (1890-1980), March in Mississippi, c.1930, watercolor, 21 3/4 x 27 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1933.

March is Women’s History Month! The 2022 theme is “Women Providing Healing, Providing Hope.”

In what appears to be a charming glimpse into the private lives of Southern African American women in the early 20 th -century, Marie A. Hull memorialized one of the most important figures in the post-Civil War South—the African American washerwoman. After their emancipation, Black women, accustomed to working hard to support their families, had limited options for entering the mainstream workforce. High demand for laundering services, a job many considered beneath their dignity, created an empowering opportunity for these women to increase the income and well-being of their families while working from home. Often, the wages earned made possible the purchase of homes, education for their children, and investment in businesses. Their employment also led to early civil rights activism and demands for wage equality. In 1866 (Jackson, Mississippi), 1877 (Galveston, Texas), and 1881 (Atlanta, Georgia), laundry workers comprised of mostly African American women organized and carried
out strikes pressing for better wages and increased autonomy.

The political and economic gains made by these women did not bring them racial or financial equality—issues we are still navigating today—but their courageous and noble efforts materially contributed to the foundational momentum of civil rights activism in the United States. Additionally, these women deserve honor, respect, and deep appreciation for their example of sacrifice, hard work, and determination in actively working toward their hope of a better future for themselves and their families.

How can you better understand and appreciate the variety of ways women have fought for their vision of hope in humanity? How can you participate in sustaining that vision?

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