Document 3: Thomas H. Watkins, "About Black Women …," N.Y. Recorder, 8 May 1976.


The amicus brief filed by the Washington D.C.-based Organization of Black Activist Women in the 1976 in the Williams v. Saxbe case is lost, but a newspaper report describing the brief is presented here. The article was written in response to Judge Richey's decision in favor of Diane Williams in Williams v. Saxbe. The amicus brief was written by Maudine Rice Cooper, today President of the Greater Urban League of Washington D.C., and Benjamin L. Evans, both African-American attorneys.

Briefs From The
Publisher's Desk
By Thomas H. Watkins, Jr.

About Black Women…

   WASHINGTON -- Black women in this country are plagued with the twin evils of racism and sexism, and heretofore have gotten little solace from Black men, according to Maudine Rice Cooper, a Black woman attorney and spokesperson for the Washington-based Organization of Black Activist. Women (OBAW).

   "The laws in this country were originally designed by white men for the protection of themselves and their white women," she said. "Blacks were afterthoughts, gainin gsome small degree of recognition under the law during the 1960's. Much of that recognition has been tokenism. with emphasis upon Black men. Rather than join forces to use these legal tools, such as they are, to fight for the rights of Blacks as a race, Black men have been turning the other cheek to the plight of Black women, or even becoming willing participants in the humiliation, degradation and harassment of Black women," explained Ms. Cooper.

   Ms. Cooper's comments were precipitated by a Federal judge's decision last Tuesday that employees whose condition of employment is based on their accepting sexual advances by a supervisor is a form of sex discrimination and therefore illegal under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Attorneys Cooper and Benjamin L. Evans had filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief for the OBAW in behalf of Diane R. Williams, a Black woman who was summarily fired in September, 1972 frm her GS-8 job as a public information assistant in the Justice Department's Community Relations Service. Ms. Williams supervisor was a Black man.

   Point in gout some little known facts about the status of Black women, Ms. Cooper noted that:

   - One of every five Black families in this country is headed by woman while one of every eight families has a female head of household.

   - Two of every three poor Black families are headed by a woman.

   - Young minority women earn the lowest wages, have the least desirable jobs, and have the highest unemployment rates.

   - Aside from the failure to receive equal pay for equal work, many Black women, who face the dual yoke of racism and sexism, do not have needed child care facilities to assist them in obtaining maximum job flexibility available to men.

   - The pecking order for salaries is white men first; Black men second; white women, third; and Black women, fourth.

   - The unemployment rate for nonwhite women has traditionally been twice that of white women.

   - Black women represent approximately 53 per cent of the total Black population.

   "Historically, Black women, who were slaves in their master's homes, have been slaves in their own homes and, in many instances. in their work environment as well," concluded Ms. Cooper. "Hopefully, U.S. District Judge Charles Richey's decision in the Williams case will commence the process of full equality for Black women, who have more often been subjected to sexual harassment that have white women dating to the time of slavery in this country. OBAW applauds Judge Richey's sensitivity to the issues presented in this landmark case." added Attorney Cooper.


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