“In 1963, a 28-year-old black woman named Mary Hamilton was arrested for nonviolent protest. She was brought before an Alabama court, hardly a friendly environment for a young civil rights activist. But as she stood before the judge, she stood firm to her commitment to equal dignity: She refused to answer the prosecutor’s questions until he called her “Miss Hamilton,” as he would any white female defendant.
It was a brave stand and an important one. In 1964, the Supreme Court reversed Hamilton’s conviction for contempt of court in a little-noted landmark decision.
I have been thinking about Hamilton over the past few days as I’ve watched President Trump attack black female journalists. Trump’s vicious and public insults of black female professionals should remind us that black women have long had to fight for respect and dignity and against demeaning and ugly stereotypes in the public space. As Hamilton demonstrated, this was a signature struggle of the civil rights movement; we need to keep that context in mind when Trump demeans black women he regards as his opponents.”
Read the full op-ed here.