A Brief Primer on the History of Black Women in the U.S. Pt. 1

A 57 Second Lecture

Lecture Transcript

This is a #57SecondLecture. I’m Nikki Lane and I’m going to be your professor.


In order to really understand Beyonce, I think it’s really important that you understand the history of Black women in the United States. I want to focus on 3 particular aspects of Black women’s history that I think will be important as you think through Beyonce and her body of work.

The first is black women’s existence during the era of slavery. What marked black women’s bodies differently was that they were especially profitable. [1662, Virginia Passes a law that makes the children of enslaved women, slaves. Other states would follow]. Because black women could produce more property, from the moment African women left the continent in chains, their bodies became some of the most profitable bodies in the world. And yet, black women have not been able to benefit from that value.

Suggested Reading

Davis, Angela. 1983. Women, Race & Class. Vintage.

Gaspar, David Barry, and Darlene Clark Hine, eds. More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas. Indiana University Press, 1996.