Harriet Tubman. Madame C.J. Walker. Josephine Baker. Billie Holiday. All of these women at some point were washerwomen- women who took in laundry to make a living. Once the number one profession in Black America, it was hidden in plain view as the shame of being a domestic worker silenced many of their voices. However, these laundresses impacted both the labor movement in America and the creation of an African American middle class.
Washerwoman explores the vast cultural and societal contributions of washerwomen, uncovering a story rooted in the sacrifice inherent in uplifting the next generation. From the 1881 Washerwoman’s Strike in Atlanta, to stories from former washerwomen and their families, we get a glimpse into the importance of these women in both Black American and American society.