Ruby Hurley's Radicalism


        Michelle Salazar Perez and Eloise Williams wrote: “Black Feminist Activism: Theory as Generating Collective Resistance” which describes the ways four powers — structural, hegemonic, disciplinary, and interpersonal — are instituted. The article also expressed how oppressed people can resist these powers through subtle acts of resistance. The authors point out that Black feminism is pivotal in exposing and resisting these four powers. Ruby Hurley is one example of how someone can resist. Being Black and a woman in a Black and male privileged organization, Hurley was in a position of power as the Southeast Regional Director of the NAACP. This points to what we name radical in this digital archive. She was a disturbance, if you will, to the structural patriarchal powers that were set before her. She was observed intensely by journalists for having no children and being divorced. At the same time, she was privileged for being an attractive, fair-skinned, green-eyed woman with an education. Hurley’s work and sacrifices enabled her to not only resist the oppressions Perez and Williams wrote about, but also resist problematic structures of the NAACP. 

        The first document shown is “Harlem Women Disagree with ‘Virgin’ Decision.” This article shows how groups of people can be oppressed in a structural way. This document shows laws oppressing women which would be an example of the structural type of power or oppression. Structural powers help to maintain these kind of oppressive systems. The next document combated hegemonic domains of power and oppression. The document’s title is "Ruby Hurley Urges Negroes to Help Whites in South." When hegemonic power is used, the oppressive force will try to enforce their own political or social thoughts on other cultures. Ruby Hurley bypassed this by telling the community to “stop thinking like you’re in slavery and … renew their minds.” This was a way for her to teach the community to lose the oppressive mind state they currently live in so they can effectively fight against injustices. The third document was entitled “Ruby says of her N. A. A. C. P. work: ‘I want to go farther-faster!’” This article was an example of how disciplinary power/oppressions would not stand a chance against Ruby Hurley. Disciplinary power occurs when “dominant” people enforce things that oppress communities more. Hurley was speaking about radicalism, which would dismantle this power because the power would be invested in the community instead of held by an oppressive force. The last power is interpersonal oppression. This power shows that everyone has privileges and oppressions. This is illustrated in the “Mrs. Ruby Hurley, The Most Militant Negro Woman in the South” Jet magazine article. This article highlighted Hurley’s looks, using her privileges against her since that was not the focus of the article. This document was able to show interpersonal oppression in a unique way. Through context analysis, I was able to research these four documents and explain how they show Hurley’s radicalism. Ruby Hurley was able to support the NAACP in a huge manner whether is was increasing membership or exerting radical ideals to the common people.

Curated by Jordan Brown


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