Conclusion: “Patricia’s Climb and the Sisters Holding Down Liberty”
1. How do Berry and Gross connect the actions of Isabel de Olvera and Patricia Okoumou as those of a “genuine pursuit of liberty” (209)?
2. How does the design of the Statue of Liberty represent Black women’s history in America? How have modern interpretations of Lady Liberty gone against the design and intent of the statue’s designers? Before crafting your answer, spend some time learning about Édouard de Laboulaye and Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi.
3. The Conclusion of A Black Women’s History of the United States summarizes the actions and contributions of many of the women previously discussed in the book. Keeping those women in mind, how have their battles to fight the wrongs of their era lifted marginalized individuals in 2021?
4. Berry and Gross mention the work of Joann Walker to improve prison conditions for women. What did Walker face? How did she use her situation to help others? What is the current plight of marginalized women in the prison system? Your response needs multiple concrete examples of the incarcerated and their incarcerators.
5. Black women have made extraordinary contributions to the arts. Select a contemporary Black woman whose artistic endeavors have brought awareness and change to an issue through their art and actions.
6. In addressing the proponents and acts of change brought about by African American womanhood, Berry and Gross describe these women’s actions as those “tied to the ferocity with which Black women have cleaved and clarified notions of liberty” (213). What does this observation mean to you? How and what can Americans learn from the history of Black women? Who are the leaders and organizations that we can follow to correct what has failed and build what will unify?
7. Berry and Gross suggest that Patricia Okoumou’s call for change symbolizes “how the country is far short of living up to its professed democratic ideals” (214). Has America fallen short? If America has, then how can you participate in change? Identify your role in becoming a steward of this change.
Populating the wall labels with quotes from artists talking about their lives, I Am Here breaks with the practice of interpreting art through the writings of curators and brings the artists’ voices to the forefront. Together, their evocation of “here” ranges from a physical place with institutions and jobs (“I love Las Vegas and all the people who fought for my family to be here and to live a healthy and prosperous life” - Krystal Ramirez) to a state of mind. (“There are those moments, admittedly, a lot of the time when I’m making the work, where I feel as though I’m somewhere else and I’m transported elsewhere” - Chase McCurdy.)