My historical research seeks to reveal how exactly White European notions of Blackness, womanhood, and motherhood (and the intersections of all three) were inscribed onto the lived experiences of enslaved women and mothers from the early Atlantic period through the antebellum era. What emerges from a critical analysis of archival omissions are Black women’s voices and experiences—who demonstrate over and over that they resisted and are resisting. I will demonstrate how other people’s rhetorical use of Black motherhood constructs and shapes the lived experience of these women and creates a tension between the ‘ideal’ Black mother and those that don’t fit into the prescribed narrative. Furthermore, I will argue that looking at this history through a Black Maternalist framework reveals that motherhood characterized these women’s resistance, and that these women fought to gain freedom through their radical acts of maternalism.
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Biesecker-Mast, Anna, "Narratives of the Black Mother in the U.S.: Exploring the Black Maternalist Framework in Black Activism" (2022). Honors Theses. 346.