A Black Woman’s West: The Life of Rose B. Gordon, by Michael K. Johnson, 256pp, will be released on April 22 by the Montana Historical Society Press. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon. As a member of the society, I look forward to the release of important new books by the MHS Press.
From the Publisher
Born in the Barker mining district of central Montana Territory, Rose Beatrice Gordon (1883-1968) was the daughter of an African American chef and an emancipated slave who migrated to the West in the early 1880s. This book tells the story of the Gordon family―John, Anna, Robert, Rose, John Francis Jr., George, and Taylor―and pays tribute to Rose, who lived most of her life in White Sulphur Springs. In her youth, Rose excelled academically and distinguished herself as a musical performer. As an adult, she established her economic independence as a restaurant owner, massage therapist, and caregiver. She also made a place for herself in the public sphere through letters to the editor and eventually through a regular newspaper column for the Meagher County News―a remarkable undertaking at a time when Black women in America were largely denied a public voice. As a Black woman in the West, Gordon’s life was ordinary in terms of its day-to-day struggles but extraordinary in its sum.
“The story of a single life, well told, always amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Critically, Johnson allows the lives that Rose Gordon and her family led in White Sulphur Springs to stand on their own. But through Rose’s story, he recovers a much wider history of Montana’s society and culture that is seldom told. As a book meditating on race, belonging and the meaning of home, A Black Woman’s West has much to say to all students of Montana and Western history.” – Anthony W. Wood, author of Black Montana
Michael K. Johnson is a Professor of American literature at the University of Maine at Farmington. His previous works include Black Masculinity and the Frontier Myth in American Literature, Hoo-Doo Cowboys and Bronze Buckaroos: Conceptions of the African American West and Can’t Stand Still: Taylor Gordon and the Harlem Renaissance.