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Ebook Information

Reverend Addie Wyatt

Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality

An extraordinary woman's struggle for the idea of equality as a universal, God-given right

Labor leader, civil rights activist, outspoken feminist, African American clergywoman--Reverend Addie Wyatt stood at the confluence of many rivers of change in twentieth century America. The first female president of a local chapter of the United Packinghouse Workers of America, Wyatt worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt and appeared as one of Time magazine's Women of the Year in 1975.

Marcia Walker-McWilliams tells the incredible story of Addie Wyatt and her times. What began for Wyatt as a journey to overcome poverty became a lifetime commitment to social justice and the collective struggle against economic, racial, and gender inequalities. Walker-McWilliams illuminates how Wyatt's own experiences with hardship and many forms of discrimination drove her work as an activist and leader. A parallel journey led her to develop an abiding spiritual faith, one that denied defeatism by refusing to accept such circumstances as immutable social forces.

Drawing on oral histories, interviews conducted with Wyatt's colleagues and families, personal papers, and extensive archival data, Reverend Addie Wyatt is the inspiring portrait of a woman who defied injustice in its many guises.


"Walker-McWilliams masterfully weaves the influences of the Great Migration from Mississippi to segregated Chicago, the vibrant religious culture of the Church of God, Chicago's meatpacking industry and labor movements, the emergence of the Civil Rights and women's movements, and her enduring marriage to Rev. Claude Wyatt to create a fascinating portrait of a historical activist icon."--Chicago Review of Books

"This highly readable biography by historian Marcia Walker-McWilliams gives this influential figure the attention she deserves."--Newcity

"[A] compelling, well-written, definitive biography. . . . This biography of Addie Wyatt is a valuable treatment of an activist who should be better known and whose life provides an important window into the organized labor, feminist, and civil rights movements."--Indiana Magazine of History

"Late in life, Addie Wyatt told Walker-McWilliams to 'tell the story,' and this powerful social movement biography certainly delivers. Long before people were thinking through the notion of 'intersectionality,' Reverend Addie Wyatt lived a firm commitment to her Christian faith, labor activism, women's equality, and racial justice as all essential for her vision of freedom. Here, we are presented with a complex piece of the past, a life of liberation that can instigate and inspire us to forge a better future."--Davarian L. Baldwin, author of Chicago's New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life

"Deeply researched and well written. An original, compelling, and important biography of a significant leader of twentieth century labor, civil rights, and women's movements in the United States."--Nancy F. Gabin, author of Feminism in the Labor Movement: Women and the United Auto Workers, 1935-1937


Marcia Walker-McWilliams is Associate Director of Programs for the Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University.

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