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A Shining Thread of Hope

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When one mentions African American history, one invariably conjures up images of slaves in antebellum south.  While it is undeniably true that African American history is inextricably linked to slavery, Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson, in their book A Shining Thread of Hope, assert that the history of African-American women should not be regulated to a simple stereotype of the typical plantation slave; rather, these authors argue that the contributions of African American women throughout the nineteenth century and twentieth century not only shaped African American women as a groups but also shaped the way in which American society and culture developed.  Through carefully researched stories, Hine and Thompson are able to effectively show how African American women have continued to triumph, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Darlene Clark and Kathleen Thompson

A Shining Thread of Hope

Assessing the validity of Hine and Thompson’s arguments one must first consider the nature of the authors’ experience.  Shining Thread of Hope: The history of Black women in America was co-authored by Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson.  Both authors are seasoned veterans in both writing and the explication of women’s history.  Kathleen Thompson’s most recent works include: editor of Face of Our Past: Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present; editor of The Encyclopedia of Black Women; and contributor to Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia.  Thompson has been writing for almost 25 years and is best known for the feminist classic: Against Rape.

Darlene Clark Hine’s most recent works include:

  • Co-editor Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia; editor,
  • Eyes on the Prize, History of the Civil Rights Era, A Reader;
  • Editor of the twelve-volume Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women. 

Hine has also authored a number of books including:

  • Hine Sight
  • Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History, Black Women in White
  • Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950
  • Speak Truth to Power: Black Professional Class in United States History

The Role that African American Women Played in American Society

Overall it seems that the authors’ main intent in writing this book was to effectively demonstrate the understanding of the role that African American women played in American society is the lynchpin of understanding American history: “The extraordinary achievements of black women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not grow out of degradation but out of a legacy of courage, resourcefulness, initiative and dignity that goes back to 1619.  Overall, Hine and Thompson seem to assert that American history has not given black women enough credit for their contributions; rather historians have sought to stereotype and ignore truly courageous African American women who shape American culture.

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