African American women and leadership are two terms that are rarely found juxtaposed in American history. For centuries, the United States has been governed and controlled by white males. From the days of slavery, to current day, white American males have head many offices, presided over entire nations, and even asked whether or not a customer wanted fries with their meals. White males have been running all aspects of society since the day Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The foundation of America is based off of the leadership of white males. Not until the 2009 presidential victory of Barack Obama has any African American held such a prominent position of power. The election of Barack Obama served as a turning point in the leadership roles of black men. Although African American males have begun to emerge from the suppressions of history, current leadership potential of black women go unnoticed due to social constraints.
Throughout history, social constraints have dominated the success of African Americans, specifically women. During the slave era, African Americans were treated as personal property; they had no rights, and were treated as animals().Blacks were humiliated by their owners who regarded them as personal possessions. Slave owners beat, mutilated, whipped, and killed their slaves. Due to their sexualities, women were often raped and reduced to hedonistic objects. The respect that individuals have for women can be observed through the derogatory depiction of African Americans women at this time. Leadership is defined as the ability to guide, direct, or influence the people, a quality that comes second to respect in terms of leadership. Before a woman is deemed worthy of leadership roles, she must first be respected.
During the Civil Rights movement, most women in the movement were forced into background positions because of the bias experienced due to racist and sexist views. Numerous African American men were recognized for their commitment and dedication to the movement, while the efforts of many women overlooked. Women of the movement experienced acts of sexism within the ethnic community. During the planning of the March on Washington, activists Dorothy Height and Anna Arnold Hedgeman began to question the prominence of women in the movement (Joseph). Their pleas of concern generated opportunities to sit on the platform and work in other areas of the movement, but few women were granted the opportunity to speak. This denial of allowing women the opportunity to express their concerns and solutions to followers of the movement silenced the voices of many African American women. The leadership roles of African American women were obviate by society which rarely recognized the efforts of black women.
The observation of a modern United States society reveals that although American women are currently dominating middle management positions, their presence to in top level management is minimal. According to Ginka Toegel, a professor...