In the fall of 1976 I was hired by the Women's Studies Program at San Jose State University to teach one course which I had outlined and proposed to that program's curriculum committee the previous spring. The course, entitled "Afro-American Women in History," began with "the legacy of slavery" as its theme and worked its way from the colonial era to modern times. The following year I taught the class again, this time under the auspices of the Afro-American Studies department. The first time I taught the class the students were overwhelmingly white. The second time they were overwhelmingly Black. Only two men ever enrolled in the class. They were both Black, and came when Afro-American Studies was the sponsoring agency. A year later, Afro-American Studies adopted the course as a permanent part of its curriculum.
This enrollment pattern absolutely reflects the racist and patriarchal structure of the university as it has been imposed upon us. It is a structure which separates Women's Studies and Afro-American Studies from each other, and segregates both from the intellectual and fiscal "mainstream" of university life. Thus separated and segregated, we are pitted against each other by an institution that allows minimal material support for either. It took the most conscientious effort on the part of both programs to take the first cautious steps toward mutual support for the course on Afro-American women.