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Reading, Writing, and Segregation: A Century of Black Women Teachers in Nashville

Detailing the inception of segregated public schools in 1867 and the aftermath of federal court-ordered desegregation through 1983, "Reading, Writing, and Segregation" is a study of the experiences of African American women teachers in Nashville. Sonya Ramsey examines the familial and educational backgrounds, working environments, and political strategies of Nashville's African American teachers, who constituted the majority of its black middle class. Grounded in extensive interviews with both black and white women who made the transition to integrated schools, Ramsey's history reveals how educators in an urban Southern environment responded not only to desegregation and integration but also to critical moments in US history, such as the world wars, the Great Depression, and the civil rights and women's movements. Her exploration of how they constructed identities as middle-class women and how desegregation transformed their teaching roles illuminates the links among class, gender, and race in segregated communities; the racialized and gendered meanings of professionalism; and the complex consequences of desegregation.

Important places

Nashville (156)


Davidson (183)


Tennessee (979)


United States (64,950)

Other geographical areas

Cumberland Plateau (211)
Appalachian Mountains (1,111)