Chapter

Keeping Body and Soul Together: Charity Workers and Black Activism in Post-emancipation New York City

in In the Shadow of Slavery

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780226317748
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317755 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226317755.003.0006
Keeping Body and Soul Together: Charity Workers and Black Activism in Post-emancipation New York City

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Blacks in the 1830s increasingly exercised their power to influence organizations founded on their behalf. The orphanage provided a valuable service to black families who were unable to keep their children due to poverty, work, illness, or death, but simple material charity and moral lessons were not enough for many blacks. They sought to make the providers of these services understand the larger struggles over race and class that were at stake for them in New York City, and sometimes they succeeded. In the wake of the demise of the Manumission Society, the asylum managers were probably all too aware of the vulnerability of their project to the desires of their clients. New York City blacks' rejection of the Manumission Society had resulted in the downfall of the society's activist agenda. Whereas the men in charge of the Manumission Society could return to other public roles after the society's dissolution, the orphanage provided its female managers with one of their few opportunities for institutional influence and power, and perhaps even for independent income.

Keywords: black activism; charity; New York City blacks; Manumission Society; orphanage; poverty

Chapter.  13480 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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