In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women -- Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more -- who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.
Jones has written an elegant and expansive history of Black women who sought to build political power where they could ... in a sense Vanguard is a rebuke to our fixation on firsts. Jones is just as interested in everything these women made possible — not just the trails they blazed, but the journeys they took, and what came after.
Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University, draws on recent historical scholarship and her own deep research into personal papers, speeches and essays to acquaint us with scores of female activists in a well-paced, readable and relevant book ... Jones has written an important and timely volume on courageous Black women who shaped history. Their stories remind us that 'voting resides at the core of a democracy.' A lesson for our time.
Jones’ book is a welcome addition to the spate of books on woman suffrage that have been published this year in honor of the Centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. Through her rigorous scholarship and out-of-the-box perspective, she sheds new and important light on the crucial role of Black women in winning and ensuring the right to vote ... Jones’ scholarship addresses a gaping hole in suffrage literature. She shares the experiences of many women who played a key role in American history. Though some are familiar, she sheds new light on their work. ... As a historian whose earlier books have won praise and prizes from academic and professional organizations, Jones brings her research chops to this narrative. Yet her writing style is fluid and accessible for all readers as she vividly unfolds this hidden history ... Vanguard serves both as a tocsin and an inspiring map forward if we are to protect voting rights for all.