We are so pleased to announce that Shennette Garrett-Scott has won the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization for American Historians (OAH) for her book Banking on Freedom: Black Women in U.S. Finance Before the New Deal.
The Darlene Clark Hine Award is given annually to the author of the best book in African American women’s and gender history. It is named for Darlene Clark Hine, a pioneer in African American women’s and gender history and past president of the OAH 2001–2002.
Between 1888 and 1930, African Americans opened more than a hundred banks and thousands of other financial institutions. Banking on Freedom tells the story of one of them, the St. Luke Bank in Richmond, Virginia: the first and only bank run by black women. In this unparalleled account of how black women carved out economic, social, and political power in contexts shaped by sexism, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation, Garrett-Scott chronicles the bank’s success and the challenges its success wrought, including extralegal violence and aggressive oversight from state actors who saw black economic autonomy as a threat to both democratic capitalism and the social order. The teller cage and boardroom became sites of activism and resistance as the leadership of President Maggie Lena Walker and other women board members kept the bank grounded in meeting the needs of working-class black women. The first book to center black women’s engagement with the elite sectors of banking, finance, and insurance, Banking on Freedom reveals how gender, race, and class shaped the meanings of wealth and risk in U.S. capitalism and society.
Banking on Freedom is one of many offerings from the book series Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism.