The Life Of Black Maids In The 1960s

1452 words - 6 pages

Harsh, cruel, and stressful are three words to describe the life of African American women domestic workers during the Civil Rights Movement. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, there were many contributions other than just the typical marches, speeches, and violence that everybody hears about. One of the many topics that have not been heard about frequently is the life of the colored maids during this time period. What were black domestic workers? These women worked for many white families usually in the south for practically their whole lives taking care of their employer’s children and working their houses cleaning and doing many other tasks. The life of a black maid had many responsibilities and difficulties that challenged these women on a daily basis.
When discussing the background of the many women who became maids, it is often questioned where they came from and when they started working. In almost every black town there were many ladies all over who were maids. As early as 10 years old, these ladies had worked for many white families all over southern states. They started off by just doing simple tasks such as answering doorbells and sweeping the yard. When they start to become older, they learn to become cooks and then eventually are suited to be a maid to white families in the south (History Matters).
Firstly, an African American maid raised white children and had many chores while doing so. An experienced black maid quoted on “History Matters” refers to the amount of work she had to do by saying, “It’s “Mammy, do this, “or “Mammy, do that,” or “Mammy do the other,” from my mistress, all the time.” The maids were required to wash, dress, and feed the children more than three times a day. Sometimes they would even make the children’s clothing. They were entitled to cook meals for the entire family that would impress them. In addition, they have to get the children out of bed every day and put them to sleep every night and also be there every time the children woke up. They also have to be at their boss’s house every day all day during the week and are not permitted to leave until they are done with their chores (History Matters).
A recent best-selling novel called The Help had many similar topics of a black maid working for a white family in the south. This book also talks about the many chores that black maid had to do. The author of the book, Kathryn Stockett, recalled her life when she was younger growing up in Mississippi and having a black maid. Kathryn says that she remembers her maid, Demetrie, coming over every day to cook and clean ever since she was 28 years old. Kathryn said that most of the time Demetrie would cook for their family and tell stories to her and her brother throughout their lives (Stockett 525-526). Kathryn shared, “And God, how I loved to talk to Demetrie. After school, I’d sit in my grandmother’s kitchen with her, listening to her stories and watching her mix up cakes and...

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