‘The Help,’ 1919: Woman’s Club takes new look at problem

“If the activities of the white Charlotte Woman’s Club are any indication, interracial contact within public health campaigns had borne fruit. By 1919 white women had moved from the isolation of discussing racial issues with each other to interracial dialogue.

“That year, the Woman’s Club embarked upon a course of study to better understand the ‘perplexing and disquieting’ problem of race relations. The white women… kicked off the year by discussing the well-worn servant problem, but this time the lecture’s title reveals a twist: ‘Service in the Home — Workers’ Viewpoint’….

“The white women did not simply argue among themselves; they reserved time for discussion with ‘Negro race leaders.’ This activity drew a mild reproach from the editors of the Charlotte News, who suggested that the real danger to society lay in the [increasing opportunity] of black women to  find employment outside white homes.”

— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920″ by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)