Beyond Respectability charts the development of African American women as public intellectuals and the evolution of their thought from the end of the 1800s through the Black Power era of the 1970s. Eschewing the Great Race Man paradigm so prominent in contemporary discourse, Brittney C. Cooper looks at the far-reaching intellectual achievements of female thinkers and activists like Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Barrier Williams, Pauli Murray, and Toni Cade Bambara. Cooper delves into the processes that transformed these women and others into racial leadership figures, including long-overdue discussions of their theoretical output and personal experiences. As Cooper shows, their body of work critically reshaped our understandings of race and gender discourse. It also confronted entrenched ideas of how--and who--produced racial knowledge.
"A work of crucial cultural study. . . . [Beyond Respectability] lays out the complicated history of black woman as intellectual force, making clear how much work she has done simply to bring that category into existence."--NPR
"If black women's history is your thing, Beyond Respectability should definitely be on your reading list."--Bitch
"Cooper's study demands that we dive deeper into the intellectual artifacts left by black women thinkers as a means of supporting the evolution of black feminist discourse and political action."--Public Books
"Beyond Respectability is one small part of a much larger picture. This is a valuable contribution to the whole."--Journal of American History
"Beyond Respectability is an intricate temporal and spatial tapestry that weaves together the development and evolution of black feminist thought. Cooper's sophisticated analysis not only recovers the intellectual proficiency of race women, but also emphasizes the embodied nature of public intellectualism."--Antipode
"Beyond Respectability is an invigorating testament to the pivotal legacies of changemakers like Pauli Murray, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell and why the intellectual work of black women cannot and will not be forgotten."--Signature