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Black Women as Custodians of History: Unsung Rebel (M)Others in African American and ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Black Women as Custodians of History:


“Custodians of History”

(Re)constructing Black Women
as Historical and Literary Subjects
in African American and
Afro-Cuban Women’s Writing

[This space owned by the commission is] safe for a political activist, safe for a woman and wife, official in its acknowledgement of her story as the truth and official in giving her the space to become a historian, a custodian of history despite her gender.

—Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull 55

In her book Country of My Skull (1998), South African author Antjie Krog analyzed the “Special Hearings on Women” organized in 1997 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was formed to address the violation of human rights by the system of apartheid in South Africa. These hearings emphasized the idea that both the silences and the words of those women who had struggled against apartheid needed to be examined. The epigraph at the beginning of this chapter focuses on the necessity of women activists’ having a safe space in which to tell their untold stories—“despite their gender.” According to its report on the hearings, the TRC feared that this particular format