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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mothers of the City: The Phyllis Wheatley Club and Home, The Great Migration, and Communal Family in Black Chicago, 1910-1930

  • Author(s): Kimani Sr., Abraham Carter
  • Advisor(s): Finch, Aisha K
  • et al.

This thesis will examine the Phyllis Wheatley's activism in the settlement housing movement in Chicago between 1910 and 1930. Beginning in 1908, the Phyllis Wheatley Home housed Black migrant women and girls who arrived to Chicago without relatives and economic resources. The home was established due to racial segregation in housing and mainstream settlement homes; unsanitary housing conditions; and the sexual exploitation of Black women. The Phyllis Wheatley Home offered adequate housing for Black migrant women; and protection from sexual exploitation. However, the Phyllis Wheatley Club relied on the financial resource from Black civic organizations and institutions toward fulfilling their objectives. The club's settlement work exemplified what sociologist Patricia Hill-Collins labels their "other mothering" role to Black migrant girls and women. I contend that the Phyllis Wheatley Club's other mothering combined elements of feminism and Black economic nationalism in their quest for uplifting Black migrant women, and the Black Belt community.

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