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The Afro-American community and the birth control movement, 1918-1942

Jessie May Rodrique, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines the role of Afro-Americans in the U.S. birth control movement in the years between 1918-1942. It argues that Afro-Americans of all classes not only supported the idea of birth control but were also a significant force in shaping the national birth control debate, educating their communities and delivering contraceptives to women. During a period when white advocacy of birth control became increasingly conservative, black birth control advocates advanced a broad, often radical, rationale for contraception. While the black and white communities often worked together to provide services to black women in many locations throughout the country, Afro-Americans worked independently of the national, white dominated birth control organizations. Additionally, the organizational strategies of Afro-American birth control advocates were found to be different from those of their white counterparts. The differences were due, in part, to Afro-Americans' strong community orientation, their belief in each person's right to good health and that the state should provide health care, and their nonhierarchial approach to the "professional's" relationship with other health providers and birth control users.

Subject Area

Black history|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Rodrique, Jessie May, "The Afro-American community and the birth control movement, 1918-1942" (1991). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9132903.