The place of women's rights in African American public culture has been an enduring question, one that has long engaged activists, commentators, and scholars. This book explores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements, and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. It reveals how, through the nineteenth century, the “woman question” was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights. The book explains that, like white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men, black women often organized within already existing institutions: churches, political organizations, mutual aid societies, and schools. Covering three generations of black women activists, it demonstrates that their approach was neither unanimous nor monolithic but changed over time and took a variety of forms, from a woman's right to control her body to her right to vote.