Paris Peace Conference
I added 33 women to Peace. This was the last piece I worked on and my photoshop skills had progressed. Each photograph of the woman I added went through a similar process of changing the hue to sepia, desaturating the color almost, but not quite, all the way down, resizing, placing, possibly flipping to get the sunlight on the right side of their face, sharpening, adding noise, and other little tweaks that might make the woman look like she belonged in that photograph.
Peace was the most time consuming of the 3 pieces. There were many photographs available of white women, Jewish women, and black women. There were fewer photographs of Native American women, and even fewer of Mexican American, and Chinese American women. The internet is a big place and it can take a lot of research to find the names of women that weren’t included in our history books. And, even when I had a plethora of women to choose from I read numerous books, articles, blogs, and journals, in the process deciding which women to use.
When I found a woman I wanted to include I often did more thorough research on the organizations she was part of, and their place in history. For example, I wanted to add Angelina Weld Grimke, grand niece of the Grimke Sisters. Angelina Weld Grimke is an African American. She is also biracial, with a white mother, and a white grandfather on her father’s side.
Angelina wrote plays and poems about being black, was considered black by herself and her community as well. Her father (who was biracial) was born into slavery and, although he had a white father considered himself black.
I thought I should include Angelina Weld Grimke in the group with African American women, for the purpose of my project. But I also had some women who considered themselves biracial in their own group. Angelina Weld Grimke could represent in that group, but, in the majority of her writing, she seemed to identify more as an African American.
That led me to research the role racism plays in people being considered black even when only one out of four grandparents was an African American person. Which led me to something called hypodescent and the “one drop rule” which is a white supremacist idea that caught hold in the colonies and the American South, that if you have a traceable amount of “inferior” race ancestry then you are assigned to that race.
Ultimately, I included Angelina with the 7 other African American women. But it is both interesting and conflicting how the social construct of race has been used to terrorize people in this country and that I am using it in an attempt to have women equally represented in my pieces.
While researching all three of my projects I learned about more than the individual women I chose to include. While researching black history in the Progressive Era I read about why Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois disagreed, and why the Niagara Movement broke apart and who founded the NAACP. I learned about many important leaders and activists, whose names and stories should be taught in our history books.
Working on this project took an emotional toll at times, reading about lynchings, murders, and injustice upon injustice for black americans, that continues to this day.
I also felt conflicted at times about not putting men of color in, but I think that would take away from the point, which is making women visible. I hope that only having white men in the pictures will beg that question, and bring those missing men to mind for the audience.
Some laws and circumstances that would have applied to the women added to this photograph (cont. from 1777: Declaration of Independence):
Coverture: Throughout the United States no married American woman could own property, make a will, inherit, sue or be sued, or enter into a contract. Single and widowed women could not vote, hold office, or sit on a jury.
Legal slavery denied Black Americans of civil, political, and social rights.
1789: United States Constitution is adopted: slaves are counted as three-fifths of a person for means of representation.
1793 – Fugitive Slave Act – Governments and residents of free states were required to capture and return African Americans to enslavement in the South.
1800s – Indian Removal Act – forced removal of tens of thousands of Native American from their ancestral lands in the eastern United States to land west of the Mississippi River. The forced marches had a high mortality rate, for example, approximately ⅕ of the Cherokee died during the forced march west.
1800s – Records from the WPA (Works Progress Administration) indicate that the enslavement of Native Americans continued into the 1800s. Enslavement came from kidnapping by white Americans, Franciscan missions in California, and enslavement by white citizens of California in exchange for prison bail, and as a punishment for “vagrancy.”
1801 – Georgia – Freeing a slave is forbidden, except with by permission of the legislature.
1802 – Ohio state law denied blacks the right to vote, to hold public office, and to testify against whites in court.
1808 – The international slave trade was legal until 1808.The domestic slave trade continued and would not be abolished until 1865.
1826 – Girls were denied access to public school until 1826, when the first public high school for girls open in New York and Boston.
1831 – Native American were considered a Ward of the State.
1833 – Alabama – “Any person or persons who attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read, or write, shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.”
1833 – Women and African Americans were denied higher education until 1833 when Oberlin College in Ohio became the first college to admit women and African Americans.
1840, – House of Representatives passed the Twenty-first Rule which prohibited the reception of anti-slavery petitions.
1848 – It is estimated that at least 597 Mexicans and Mexican Americans were lynched in the American Southwest between 1848 and 1928.
1850 – California – A white man could go before a Justice of Peace to obtain Indian children for indenture. The Justice determined whether or not coercion was used to obtain the child. If the Justice was satisfied that no coercion occurred, the person obtain a certificate that authorized him to have the care, custody, control and earnings of an Indian until their age of majority (for males, eighteen years, for females, fifteen years).”
1857 – The Dred Scott decision officially declared that blacks were not citizens of the United States and legally establishing the race as “subordinate, inferior beings — whether slave or freedmen.”
1865 – The 13th Amendment banned slavery in all the United States. But in the South, white supremacist violence and Black Codes continued to subject some black Americans to forms of slavery.
1868 – The 14th Amendment to the Constitution defines “citizens” and “voters” as “male”.
1873 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that a state has the right to exclude a married woman from practicing law.
1875 – U.S. Supreme Court declares women as “persons” a “special category of non-voting citizens”
1879 – First Indian Boarding School established. Indian Boarding Schools forced assimilation by changing young Native American’s hair, dress, and names to white American styles and forbade them from speaking their native language.
1880 – African American men were prohibited from sitting on a jury until 1880.
1882 – Chinese Exclusion Act – Banned Chinese laborers from immigrating into the United States for 10 years. In 1892 the law was renewed and made permanent in 1902. It wasn’t repealed until 1943.
1883 – Code of Offenses prosecuted Native Americans who participated in traditional ceremonies, like the Sun Dance, denying Native Americans Freedom of Religion.
1890- Mississippi – Ratified new constitution that disenfranchised African Americans through voting laws requiring comprehension and literacy tests, residency lengths, and poll taxes. Illiterate white men were often “grandfathered” the right to vote. African Americans who could vote were not eligible to serve on juries, or run for local office. By 1910, 10 of the 11 former “Confederate States” passed similar laws to deny voting rights to African American men.
1892 – Lynching of African Americans by white men peaked. Between 1877 and 1950, 4,000 black men, women, and children were lynched in Southern States.
1896 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld racial segregation, and legitimized “Jim Crow” laws, banning African Americans from white hotels, barber shops, restaurants, theaters, and other public accommodations.
1898 – No state permitted women to sit as jurors until Utah did so in 1898.
1900 – All states have passed legislation modeled after New York’s Married Women’s Property Act, granting married women some control over their property and earnings.
1907 – An American woman’s nationality changed to her husband’s upon their marriage.
1913 – President Woodrow Wilson segregated previously integrated federal offices.
1915 – Film Birth of a Nation was released, it glorfied white supremacy and lynching. President Woodrow Wilson held a screening at the White House.
1917 – Immigration Act of 1917 – United States banned immigrants from much of Asia and the Pacific Islands, as well as “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, “criminals”, “epileptics” , “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, and all persons “mentally or physically defective”.
Native Americans were denied U.S. citizenship in 1919.
Native American, as a whole, were denied the right to vote in 1919. Some had been granted the right, piecemeal, based on citizenship requirements and state laws.