In 1881, recognizing the value of their labor, bodies and humanity, Black washerwomen in Atlanta, Georgia, organized a city-wide strike and refused to work until they received a living wage.
The washerwomen's strike was a part of a larger national movement of Black women workers and activists, whose labor actions crossed -- in sometimes complicated ways -- class and gender lines by garnering the support of Black men and Black middle-class allies.
Harriet P. Giles and Sophia B. Packard, two white missionaries and lifelong committed partners, entered these striking Black women's Atlanta.
Harriet P. Giles and Sophia B. Packard entered an Atlanta of Black women planning, writing, and organizing for the education of Black girls and women.
Harriet P. Giles and Sophia B. Packard, harboring the racial attitudes of their century, entered a Black woman’s city of agitation and resistance to racial and sexual violence, labor exploitation and daily assaults to their dignity.
They entered the city of Spelman’s first graduation class of six Black girls and women -- an Atlanta where Black women’s writing, thinking, reading, and organizing reinforced Black women’s refusal to have their labor defined by late 19th century capitalism.
All of these 1881 women, well acquainted with the day-to-day cruelties of injustice in their lives, worked toward new possibilities and asked:
What does equality look like? Sound like? Feel like?
Who and what are its imposters? How do we imagine equality when its opposite seems so normal?