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With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism

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The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women's movement. Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for 5 years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rura The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women's movement. Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for 5 years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rural Georgia in the 1950s, she moved to New York, determined to fight for civil rights and equality. Historian Laura L. Lovett traces Hughes's journey as she became a powerhouse activist, responding to the needs of her community and building a platform for its empowerment. She created lasting change by revitalizing her West Side neighborhood, which was subjected to racial discrimination, with nonexistent childcare and substandard housing, where poverty, drug use, a lack of job training, and the effects of the Vietnam War were evident. Hughes created a high-quality childcare center that also offered job training, adult education classes, a Youth Action corps, housing assistance, and food resources. Hughes's realization that her neighborhood could be revitalized by actively engaging and including the community was prescient and is startlingly relevant. As her stature grew to a national level, Hughes spent several years traversing the country with Steinem and educating people about feminism, childcare, and race. She moved to Harlem in the 1970s to counter gentrification and bought the franchise to the Miss Greater New York City pageant to demonstrate that Black was beautiful. She also opened an office supply store and became a powerful voice for Black women entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses. Throughout every phase of her life, Hughes understood the transformative power of activism for Black communities. With expert research, which includes Hughes's own accounts of her life, With Her Fist Raised is the necessary biography of a pivotal figure in women's history and Black feminism whose story will finally be told.


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The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women's movement. Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for 5 years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rura The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women's movement. Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for 5 years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rural Georgia in the 1950s, she moved to New York, determined to fight for civil rights and equality. Historian Laura L. Lovett traces Hughes's journey as she became a powerhouse activist, responding to the needs of her community and building a platform for its empowerment. She created lasting change by revitalizing her West Side neighborhood, which was subjected to racial discrimination, with nonexistent childcare and substandard housing, where poverty, drug use, a lack of job training, and the effects of the Vietnam War were evident. Hughes created a high-quality childcare center that also offered job training, adult education classes, a Youth Action corps, housing assistance, and food resources. Hughes's realization that her neighborhood could be revitalized by actively engaging and including the community was prescient and is startlingly relevant. As her stature grew to a national level, Hughes spent several years traversing the country with Steinem and educating people about feminism, childcare, and race. She moved to Harlem in the 1970s to counter gentrification and bought the franchise to the Miss Greater New York City pageant to demonstrate that Black was beautiful. She also opened an office supply store and became a powerful voice for Black women entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses. Throughout every phase of her life, Hughes understood the transformative power of activism for Black communities. With expert research, which includes Hughes's own accounts of her life, With Her Fist Raised is the necessary biography of a pivotal figure in women's history and Black feminism whose story will finally be told.

51 review for With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I had never heard of Dorothy Pitman Hughes before this book. It infuriates me the amount of black history that is missing from our school system. The list of this woman’s accomplishments is astonishing! Feminist, civil rights activist, child welfare advocate, business owner, mother and I’m sure I’m missing a dozen other things. Inspiring read - I’ll be recommending this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morgan R

    The iconic photo on the cover of this book from Esquire magazine 1971 is well known and while Gloria Steinem may be a household name, the lesser-known human rights activist next to her, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, finally gets her time to shine in this concise and accessible biography. After losing her father to KKK violence, she moved to New York and became a social justice warrior with child welfare and intersectionality at her forefront. She empowered communities in poverty, women, and other under The iconic photo on the cover of this book from Esquire magazine 1971 is well known and while Gloria Steinem may be a household name, the lesser-known human rights activist next to her, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, finally gets her time to shine in this concise and accessible biography. After losing her father to KKK violence, she moved to New York and became a social justice warrior with child welfare and intersectionality at her forefront. She empowered communities in poverty, women, and other underserved populations, founded a day care center, spoke nationally about women of color’s rights, co-founded Ms. Magazine, and was a pivotal figure in Harlem’s Black-owned business community. Written with clarity and focus, Lovett helps to round out the availability of quality books about women’s history and American feminism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elbrackeen Brackeen

    I am really happy to know about Dorothy Pitman Hughes in more detail. This was a wonderful addition to In Search of the Color Purple.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Renee Wilson-forrest

    Great book and easy to read.Not very many books can keep me interested but this one for sure did.Great book

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    Liz

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