In Fall 1979, I began teaching a course on Black Women in American History at the Open High School in Richmond, Virginia. The course was designed primarily as independent study with a weekly seminar discussion, and the students received three hours' social study credit. Because of my inexperience with teaching the subject matter, I limited the class to six students and was delighted to have all young Black women choose the course.
Our basic texts were Gerda Lerner's Black Women in White America and "Generations," an issue of Southern Exposure Magazine devoted to Southern women. We also used a wide variety of feminist articles, pamphlets, and newsletters.
The curriculum was divided into eight units. In the first unit, we explored the condition of Black women under slavery. We looked at such questions as how slavery affected the Black family, what kind of educational opportunities were available to slave women, how slave women handled sexual abuse, and how slavery affected the way Black women felt about themselves as women.