The Way It Was


Published:

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION, DETROIT PUBLIC LIBRARY

1932​The name “Housewives’ League of Detroit” may conjure up quaint images of genteel tea parties, leisurely bridge games, and gossipy luncheons, or it might sound to others like a racy contemporary reality show. In truth, the role of this organization, founded in 1930, couldn’t have been more distant from either assumption. The group was composed of activist African-American housewives, whose simple but steadfast resolve was to promote the patronage of black-owned businesses and, as a result, the employment of more African-Americans, which was particularly vital after the 1929 stock market crash. The Housewives also encouraged shopping at white-owned companies that didn’t discriminate against blacks in their hiring practices. “Don’t buy where you can’t work” was their mantra. Another slogan, according to a 1949 calendar directory, was “Buy, Boost, Build.” The Housewives’ League of Detroit was founded by Fannie Peck, wife of the Rev. William Peck, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He also started the Booker T. Washington Trade Association, the inspiration for the Housewives’ group. According to a 1948 Michigan Chronicle article, Fannie started the organization at her home with 50 prospective members. She soon stirred up interest in other U.S. cities, which formed their own chapters. In 1933, a national committee was formed, the National Housewives’ League of America, Inc., which elected Fannie as its first president. Still, the germ of the economically empowering idea was planted in Detroit and grew from here. Pictured are four members of the Detroit group in the early 1930s. A more egalitarian and embracing hiring climate, together with an aging membership, spelled the end of the Housewives’ organization in the mid-’90s, but by then their mark had been stamped.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

The Way It Was

Delray, circa 1939

Toys That Are Educational and Fun

These finds at metro Detroit stores have just the right amount of both, making them ideal picks for your little one

An Hour With ... Marlin Williams

Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Diversity and Inclusion, TechTown

Detroit Entrepreneur Focuses on Helping Women in Developing Countries

Fair trade accessories symbolize community and charity for owner of Love Travels. Imports

Former Piston Earl Lloyd Detroit's Hidden Figure

New documentary spotlights accomplishments of the NBA's second African-American head coach
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. 5 Michigan Breweries to Visit in the Lower Peninsula
    Hit the road to do some sightseeing around the Great Lakes State and sample some craft beers...
  2. Hour Media’s Real Estate All-Star Party 2017
    Hour Media's Real Estate All-Stars celebrated at the fourth annual Real Estate All-Star Party...
  3. Michigan Winemakers Explore Bordeaux’s Rich Heritage
    The famed region in France emphasizes differences, parallels to local industry
  4. Savor Detroit Spring 2017
    Hour Detroit's Savor Detroit, a five-night dinner series featuring ten top chefs, took place at...