Nell Irvin Painter – Women’s Contribution After Slavery

In New Orleans, a committee of Black women organized to combat infringements of Black’s civil rights. In late 1877 this “Committee of Five Hundred Women”, headed by Mary Jane Garrett, wrote Ben Butler of the plight of Black people in Louisiana. According to a hostile white Nashville weekly, the letter was in the “old bloody-shirt style, altered, to suite the present, and terribly denunciatory of Mr. Hayes and the Southern people. These sable workwomen claim that they are exposed to robbery, murder, swindling and all the other foibles and pleasantries. They have organized an emigration society, and say they propose to move.”27 But a Black politician in New Orleans praised the women for demanding “every right and privilege that the Constitution guarantees to their race;” and for insisting they would “use every power in their hands to get it.”28

  • 27 Nashville Weekly American, November 8, 1877
  • 28 J. Henri Burch, Senate Report 693, II: 232-33
  • P.155, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3



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