1880-1920 and the “Politics of Respectability”

Angela Davis, and icon from when I grew up.

Reading about a woman’s movement within the Black Baptist Church between 1880ish and 1920ish. They formed a policy of “politics of respectability.” Which gave a framework for all African American’s to keep in mind when they went about their days. It gave them a way to handle every day situations. There were (& can change that to ‘are’) so many prejudices, stereotypes, racism, elitism that was in place, all to keep this people down. Yet they choose to keep their heads up and choose dignity. I imagine the policy was a saving grace to many who survived Jim Crow days. I knew it was bad. But, I never knew it was that bad. You know laws were such that a WHITE man could rape a little black girl and get away with it once she hit puberty. Insane!!!!! The African American’s that I grew up with, and I remember two families, one that I was particularly close with for awhile, were very dignified people. I grew up with the kids, went to school with them, rode the bus with them. Their sense of humor was better than most peoples, which I am sure must have been one of their greatest survival tools. But, looking back I can see that policy in play. And you know… Bless them all!!! It is very, very difficult to be put down, controlled, abused, beaten and keep your head up and your anger down. I know this from experience. I can not say that I succeeded all the time. I would be a liar if I made that claim. The sickening part is that today–I know of people who would still talk about African American’s as if they were ‘still’ and ‘always’ nothing but ‘bimbos’ and ‘coons’. It is 2020 people…. it is time to let it your hate, and supremist attitudes go! Inside all of us, regardless of the color of our skin, we all bleed red. Our “white heart” breaks just as theirs does and for all the same reasons. We really are all one big family. How did we or do we ever justify treating our brothers and sisters like this? It all makes me sad.

Remembering Sambo’s

Little Black Sambo (book)  

There are a ton of variations on the actual story of “Little Black Sambo” available at Google Books today!  FREE!  

The Ocala Kitchen — Remembering Sambos

Growing up in the 70’s, I remember going into those Sambo’s restaurants as a kid with my grandparents.  The place was very much like a Denny’s.  Burgers, pancakes, soda, getting to sit in a booth!

The treatment was always good, as was the food, and the ambience.  I liked it when we got to go to Sambos.  But, I was a little girl who was happy to be with her grandparents, and happy to get to go out and eat with them, who had NO clue about the racial connotations of the name, “Sambo’s” meant.  I remember my grandparents talking about it once.  I remember them looking at the decorated paper table mat.  I remember them pointing out a truck on the freeway, today 880 near Oakland, California.  With the big restaurant logo and the little boy on the trailer.   I never quite understood what they were saying.  Today I don’t even remember the words.  But, the memory in a far off way, seems to remember an acknowledgement of wrongness at some point.  Sad though, I do believe my grandmother was somewhat (huh, is there somewhat? like maybe pregnant?)  racist.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have asked to boycott the business.  I don’t even remember seeing African American’s in those restaurants.  Not working nor enjoying a meal.  Would boycotting them put some people who need their jobs more than anything else in the world out of work??    I do not know.  I only know that this is proof positive that even when I was growing up in the 1970s that racism was still alive and well in America, just the same as it is today.

Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks.  Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920.  Harvard University Press, 1994

The Story Behind Naming a Restaurant “Sambo’s”

The Story Behind Naming a Restaurant “Sambo’s”

About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
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