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Dr Kate Dossett's book wins the 2009 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize

At the Southern Historical Association Annual Conference this weekend, Kate's book Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism and Integration 1896-1935, won a prize.

The Southern Association for Women Historians for best book in southern women's history awarded the prize.

What did the judges say about Kate's book?

"Bridging Race Divides offers a fresh, sophisticated intervention in the presumed dichotomy between integrationism and black nationalism among early 20th-century African Americans. Viewed through the lens of black male activism, the two positions appear politically and personally irreconcilable. Dossett carefully and skillfully explores four very different groups of black women activists and shows readers why no historical narrative is complete without taking gender into account. Among her subjects, the strategies of integration and black nationalism were not irreconcilable, but operated simultaneously. Among the women whose stories she tells, these strategic "race divides" could be, and were, bridged. 

Dossett is able to achieve this insight in no small part because she made unconventional choices about the objects of her research. Instead of focusing on one group or one place, she juxtaposes the histories of four very different manifestations of black female leadership:  the club women's movement, YWCA activists, the beauty empire of Madam Walker, and Pan-Africanists Amy Jacques Garvey and Jessie Fauset. Without compromising a sense of the unique qualities of each of these, she exposes the common threads of thought and action among them. Readers are rewarded with a tour through early twentieth-century black female activism like no other, and come away with a richer appreciation of the complexities and creativity of black political life.

This is an intrepid work of scholarship. Dossett exploited archives in six locations in three different regions of the United States, a commendable feat for any scholar, but a truly impressive one for a historian based on the other side of the Atlantic.  She has woven her welter of material together with skill and clarity, with equal parts grace and rigor.  The book that she has produced is persuasive and illuminating, an important contribution not only to southern women's history, but also to the history of black political movements. 

The Committee congratulates Kate Dossett on her achievement and is pleased to name her the winner of this year's Julia Cherry Spruill Prize."

More about the Southern Association for Women Historians 

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

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