As Associate Professor of the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, I teach courses on Afro-American History, Black Culture, Women's History and Women and Work. I received my Ph.D. in United States History from the Department of History at Howard University. I am the recipient of numerous scholarships and fellowships, including the Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Rockefeller Fellowship for Minority Group Scholars, the American Association of University Women, and the Ford Foundation. I am co-editor of the widely read Afro-American Woman: Struggles and Images (Kennikat Press, 1978; reprinted, Black Classics Press, 1997) and of Women in Africa and the African Diaspora (Howard University Press, 1987; reprinted 1997) in which I contributed scholarly articles. I recently published "Nannie Helen Burroughs: 'The Black Goddess of Liberty'" in the Journal of Negro History (December 1997) and "Speaking Up: The Politics of Black Women's Labor History" in Women and Work: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Class (Sage, 1997) edited by Donna L. Sollie and Leigh A. Leslie. I have also published two widely cited articles, "When Your Work Is Not Who You Are: The Development of a Working-Class Consciousness among Afro-American Women" in Gender, Class, Race, and Reform in the Progressive Era (University of Kentucky Press, 1991) edited by Noralee Frankel and Nancy S. Dye, and "For the Good of Family and Race: Gender, Work, and Domestic Roles in the Black Community, 1880-1930" in SIGNS: The Journal of Women in Culture and Society 15 (Winter 1990). In addition, my essays and biographical entries appear in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia edited by Darlene Clark Hine, et. Al, and the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture edited by William Ferris. I also have an essay in Nineteenth Century Black Leaders (University of Illinois Press, 1988) entitled "Mary Church Terrell: A Genteel Militant." My major recent publication is the Timetables of African American History: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in African-American History (Simon & Schuster, 1995). The latter book has been adopted as a selection for the History Month Club and the Book-of-the-Month club. My articles also appear in the Journal of Negro History, the Journal of Negro Education and a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Labor History. I also contributed an essay titled "The Death Foretold: Gloria Richardson and the Radical Black Activist Tradition" to Sisters in the Struggle: African-American Women in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas and V.P. Franklin (New York University Press, 2001). I am the editor of Sister Circle: Black Women and Work (Rutgers University Press, 2002), an interdisciplinary volume exploring the role of work in black women's lives. Currently, I am under contract with W.W. Norton Publishers to publish a book entitled Dignity and Damnation, an historical study of the intersection of gender and women's work in the black community. In 1986, I was elected to a three year term to the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association. From 1991 to 2001 I directed the award-winning Teacher Training Institute for the Prince George's County School system. Formerly Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at UMCP, I serve as a member of the Maryland Council for the Humanities, consultant to the Office of Equity Assurance and the Office of Staff Development for the Prince George's County School System, and direct the Prince George's County Teachers Institute in Multiculturalism at the University of Maryland. In 1994, I received a presidential award for Outstanding Service to the Schools for my work with the Prince George's County School System.In addition to completing a book manuscript, I am currently the co-principal investigator of the Ford Foundation-funded "The Meanings and Representations of Work in the Lives of Women of Color," and principal investigator and project director of the Ford Foundation planning project, "The Center for African-American Women's Labor Studies."


Ph.D., U.S. History, Howard University


Gender Issues


  • Director, Afro-American Studies Program, University of Maryland-College Park
  • Dean of Undergraduate Studies, University of Maryland-College Park
  • Project Director, Ford Foundation-funded research seminar, "The Meanings and Representations of Work in the Lives of Women of Color"


African-American labor history; gender and labor studies

Project Summary

"Dignity and Damnation" is a book project that seeks to provide an historical context for understanding contemporary gender roles and conceptualizations of manhood and womanhood in African-Americans in the U.S. as they impact black women's wage labor, civic work, and related public policy. Drawing upon census data, archival records, oral history collections, and other governmental and economic studies, and focusing on attitudes toward black working women and gender negotiations in both the labor market and local communities, I intend to complete an interdisciplinary study of the representations and meanings of gender in African-American communities from the end of slavery to the close of the twentieth century as they both reflect and influence public policy discourse in the U.S.

Major Publications

  • Sister Circle: Black Women and Work. Edited by Sharon Harley & The Black Women and Work Collective. Rutgers University Press, 2002.
  • The Timetables of African-American History: A Chronology of the Most Important People and Events in African-American History. Simon & Schuster, 1995 (A Book-of-the-Month Club Selection and History Month Club Selection).
  • "He Had Never Allowed His Wife to Go Out and Hit a Lick of Work for Anybody: Gender, Work and Domestic Roles in the Black Community, 1880-1930." Signs: The Journal of Women in Culture and Society. (Winter 1990).