It is through this strength and the resulting bonds of family, community and faith, the authors argue, that both yesterday’s and today’s African American woman is beginning to be recognized for her significant contributions to the progress and development of the United States and the importance she continues to play in providing examples to live, work and raise a family in trying times with dignity, grace, love and success.
The prologue of the book immediately captures the reader’s attention with a detailed description of a young African woman’s life in the earliest days of the colonies. This pattern is continued with further detail into this and other stories of African women in the early colonies as the book moves into its first chapter. The sense of immediacy is developed as the authors fictionalize to a degree in describing Lucy Terry Prince and other early African women brought to America. “A young woman stood on the shores of the New World. … We do not know this woman’s name, but we will call her Oni. She will be, for us, not a number – one of twenty slaves who were the first to be brought to North America – but the real woman she was” (8). Although they arrived on these shores as slaves, the authors demonstrate how these early slaves gained freedom, happiness, land ownership, scholarship and, at times, a degree of equality with their white neighbors. Yet there remain significant gaps to these stories as the children disappear or the family property is swallowed up by white invaders. “It is important to remember that other African Americans, women as well as men, were simultaneously creating a separate culture. Its development was not usually recorded, and few names have come down to us” (26). As they describe these stories, the authors also work to distance themselves from the stories, often switching back to the narrative scholastic voice of the present rather