mammy monument

December 16, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized —— lukeluce @ 12:18 am

The term ‘Mammy’ gained popularity during a time in which slavery was widespread, it’s commonly used with maternal figures in several cultures but unacceptable to African Americans. ”Mammy” as a house servant was introduced in the 1830s as a short, black, smiling, hardworking, woman who offered the only “redeeming embodiment of black womanhood imaginable within the intertwined race, class, and gender distinctions of the old south.” One of the earliest versions of the mammy figure was Aunt Chloe in Harriet Beecher’s Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).  There is a long tradition in the American South of honoring African Americans for being faithful to powerful whites. Essie Mae Washington-Williams’ is a traditional story that must be read. A retired African American schoolteacher from Los Angeles, announced that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the longtime U.S. Senator from South Carolina and a well known racist. Thurmond emerged in 1948 when he ran as the third-party presidential candidate of the States Rights Democratic Party, a political organization created to oppose civil rights legislation. In the years after emancipation, especially as a new generation of southern blacks grew up and had no living memory of slavery, it became common for whites across the South to tell Essie Mae’s story. Whether it was “mammy,” the gentle elderly black woman who tended to the slave owner’s children. White women’s groups, (usually the United Daughters of Confederacy (UDC)), started campaigns in the South to construct Mammy monuments. The effort started in the early 1920s when the UDC wanted southern congressmen to introduce a bill for the building of a mammy monument on national grounds in Washington, DC (it never got passed).


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