Our Secret Society brilliantly illuminates a little known yet highly significant aspect of the civil rights movement that has been long overlooked--the powerhouse fundraising effort that supported the movement--the luncheons, galas, cabarets, and traveling exhibitions attended by middle-class and working-class Black families, the Negro press, and titans of industry, including Winthrop Rockefeller.
No one knew this world better or ruled over it with more authority than Mollie Moon. With her husband Henry Lee Moon, the longtime publicist for the NAACP, Mollie became half of one of the most influential couples of the period. Vivacious and intellectually curious, Mollie frequently hosted political salons attended by guests ranging from Langston Hughes to Lorraine Hansberry. As the president of the National Urban League Guild, the fundraising arm of the National Urban League; Mollie raised millions to fund grassroots activists battling for economic justice and racial equality. She was a force behind the mutual aid network that connected Black churches, domestic and blue-collar laborers, social clubs, and sororities and fraternities across the country.
Historian and cultural critic Tanisha C. Ford brings Mollie into focus as never before, charting her rise from Jim Crow Mississippi to doyenne of Manhattan and Harlem, where she became one of the most influential philanthropists of her time--a woman feared, resented, yet widely respected. She chronicles Mollie's larger-than-life antics through exhaustive research, never-before-revealed letters, and dozens of interviews.
Our Secret Society ushers us into a world with its own rhythm and rules, led by its own Who's Who of African Americans in politics, sports, business, and entertainment. It is both a searing portrait of a remarkable period in America, spanning from the early 1930s through the late 1960s, and a strategic economic blueprint today's activists can emulate.
Our Secret Society includes 16 pages of never-before-seen photographs.
Tanisha C. Ford is a cultural critic and star academic. A professor of history at The Graduate Center, CUNY, she has written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, Time, the Root, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and featured on NPR, among other places. In 2019, she was named to the Root’s list of the 100 Most influential African Americans. Ford is the author of Dressed in Dreams, Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful, and Liberated Threads, which won the 2016 Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for best book on civil rights history. She lives in Harlem.
Ford will be in conversation with A’Lelia Bundles. A'leila Bundles is the author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, a New York Times Notable Book about her entrepreneurial great-great-grandmother and the nonfiction inspiration for Self Made, the fictional Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer. Joy Goddess: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, the first major biography of her great-grandmother, will be published in early 2025 by Scribner. She is the founder of the Madam Walker Family Archives and serves on several nonprofit boards including the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, the March on Washington Film Festival and the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative. A former network television executive and Emmy Award winning producer at ABC News and NBC News, she is chair emerita of the National Archives Foundation and a vice chair emerita of Columbia University. She was named to Forbes’s 50 Over 50 Women of Impact list in 2021.