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They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia's Black Women Leaders

Meet some of Philadelphia’s fiercest black women leaders. They range from the first black woman known to be born in Philadelphia (1694)—who ran a ferry business during colonial times—to the woman whose childhood experiences led her to become a surgeon and medical advisor to celebrities. All of the women “bring it” as activists— in community and movement work, business and civic institutions, education, faith, medicine, law and government, journalism, sports, and the arts. And they have had larger-than-life impact on the city, the country and the world.

Historical research and original interviews of contemporary women squarely place Philadelphia’s black women on center stage. The authors document that many of the women worked together directly. Others drew inspiration from those who came before. Their power comes not just from what they did as individuals, but from how their efforts snowballed into a Philadelphia community of women which spanned geographies, sectors, and time. 

The words of the book’s contemporary women are memorable. One woman observed that if the authors “had not written this book it wouldn’t have been done.” Another said, “This is who black women are. Not just me, but black women.” The authors’ experiences as activists, researchers and educators—and of frequently being the “only black women in the room”— fills the book not just with facts, but with genuine empathy.

These are the stories of the black women in one of the country’s most important cities, and who let no obstacle deter them from changing the game.