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Black Women Fund Advocacy, Housing, and Education

Visitors will learn about the physically demanding jobs historically offered to Black women and how Asheville's Black working women organized to create clubs, recreation facilities, and educational opportunities.


Washing laundry [22]

For nearly 100 years following emancipation, Jim Crow laws ensured that Black women would only be offered physically demanding jobs. In Asheville, most of those jobs required washing and ironing clothes, and cooking and cleaning in White households and hotels. By 1886, a dozen laundries served Asheville’s residents, hotels, and the 70,000 visiting tourists. Hundreds of Black women moved here for those laundry jobs.

Asheville’s Black working women organized to create clubs, recreation  facilities, and educational opportunities. They founded the Employment Club in 1913 to meet and talk about finding better jobs and careers. They opened the Phyllis Wheatley branch of Asheville’s Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1921. It offered dormitory housing, education, and social activities for Black youths, families, and women who moved here for work. Working Black women sent family members to study basic skills, career training, and college prep at the Allen School in Asheville.