In this study you asked us to look more closely at the plight of African American women of the west and their impact on the community in which they lived. I found that most of the articles assigned were of little help in achieving this objective, in that a large amount of the articles did not give much mention of the effects of these women on their communities. However, I was able to find little bits of helpful information in each article and with the help of the article "Lifting as We Climb" (which held the most valuable information), I was able to formulate the following analyze. African American women that are focused on in the article "Lifting as We Climb", I believe, give a fairly accurate overview of the over all impact and ideal system that many blacks in the community held. Therefore, to understand African American women's ideal, which invariably is a reflection of the overall black ideal system, we must first evaluate the overall stance of blacks across the nation. The increasingly large amount of racism that was being experienced by blacks across the country during the reconstruction era and later, forced the African American's of this nation to unite under one common belief.
Originally the belief was that, with the 13 th and 14 th amendments, blacks would soon be experience full participation in the main stream culture of white Americans. This, they would soon realize, would not be the case and so a new approach must be taken. African Americans, for the majority, focused instead on preparation for full integration into the mainstream culture. Civil rights and full assimilation were the long-term goals for blacks nation-wide, but to does this the belief they were to approach this first goal through the accumulation of wealth and the development of more pure virtues. Thus the self-help and racial solidarity became the dominant defensive philosophy. This, in turn, brings us to the topic at hand.
Now, holding this belief system, we can then look more closely at how African American women had an impact on the communities in which they lived. The largest documented impact upon the communities were facilitated though the establishment of African American women's clubs or organizations. One of the oldest of these clubs is the Pond Lily and Literary Club, which was established by August avia Young Steward in 1901. She had decided to form the club, in response to a newspaper article that made derogatory remark about black women, to help dispel the negative images held against black women through thought, word, and deed. Though many similar clubs also sprang up, for the most part they were all similar in structure. Candidates had to have "willing hands," a "desire to help others," and an eagerness "to do something for the race-especially the children." This will not be the last time the importance black females placed on children in the community will be established.
Since African American women were looking to improve the overall perception of black women, it was important that member were persons of "high moral character." Another primary objective of the clubs was to give assistance to the community, especially on a case to case basis, based on the needs of individuals brought to the attention of the club members. Prime examples of this would be persons who were impoverished, sick, or in trouble. However, I found an interesting anomaly in this part of the article. If one of the primary goals of the clubs was to give assistance to the community, and it was unrealistic to believe that the clubs could help everybody that approached them, then how did the different clubs decide on which case would be receiving aid and which would not be. I found that sometime the clubs would send "emissaries" (for lack of a better word), to find out whether or not the unfortunate cases "really needed help." There are even documented cases of sick individuals or families that were denied aid, while in a few different cases financial aid was given to secure bond for person of persons in jail. This seems to be contradict ive to the over-all goal of increased social awareness and increase expectancy of African American women in the community.
The members needed a high amount of team work in order to achieve the different goals of the charter. A good example of this would be that it was rare for a member to donate whole product, such as a cake or a pie. Instead, they would give ingredients-flour, eggs, or sugar- and those members who were unable to contribute would volunteer to do the actual baking. Teamwork would also be of greatest importance when a large group of clubs came together to establish the Club Home Association. This was a calibration on the part of multiple clubs to purchase and operate a residence home for "wayward" of homeless youth (mostly young black females. ) The house would later act as a meeting hall for the different clubs and massive amounts of teamwork were needed to ensure the smooth operations of such an auspicious endeavor.
Again, the importance of the youth of the day is documented, when ask what the most important job in the club house was, ever women would respond, "Running the nursery." This upholds the belief that the preparation of the youth for full participation in the mainstream [white] culture was the long-term goal of the societies and of the African American community. The list of contributions to the community that are documented and still in existence, are very extensive and impressive. Whether it was; making contributions to the local YWCA or investigating and putting political pressure on companies in the community that were acting in a discriminative manner toward African Americans, it is plain to see that African American women in the west had a large impact on the culture and the communities in which they lived.