Eleanor Main Awards celebrate outstanding mentors May 9, Emory College of Arts and Sciences. Department of African American Studies. Her book is a journey that begins with enslaved women and men arriving in America, and chronicles the many obstacles and often tragic of four centuries of Black oppression.
The book can be a hard read emotionally, and Stewart says some parts were hard to write: Her research ranges from the breaking of family bonds during enslavement, to the terror following Reconstruction, to the adverse effects of federal and state welfare programs, and repercussions of mass incarceration.
Stewart notes the arrival of Carol Anderson at Emory in as a catalyst for her thinking about the issue. Her days were filled with coursework and teaching, other research and writing, and serving as an advisor and mentor to PhD students. More specifically, no one was asking those questions through the lens of love and marriage from the perspective of Black women, she says.
Students were angry, enraged, says Stewart. They were demanding change on every campus. But what they were often expressing to me and other Black women colleagues, and men as well, was their exasperation, their disappointment, their lack of spiritual resources and resolve to cope.
Stewart was encouraged, again by Anderson, to offer the class as a lecture course. Stewart realized the time had come to take her idea to a wider audience.
The book explores ways that everyone from public servants and religious communities to the general public can Black women and men in efforts to undo the legacy of forbidden Black love. And while she endorses the self-help approach, Stewart also wants to start a conversation about where we go as a society, how we imagine the future.
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Asking questions from a new perspective Stewart notes the arrival of Carol Anderson at Emory in as a catalyst for her thinking about the issue. Then came the killing of Trayvon Martin in And everything changed.
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