Poor black women at the turn of the 20th Century lived quiet, revolutionary lives

Sex parties, queer relationships, and multiple partners were not unusual during the early 20th Century in African American neighborhoods in Philadelphia and New York. Young black women led that social-sexual revolution. The book “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments” looks at how those women have challenged and transformed ideas about love, marriage, and family -- even before the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance.

Cover image of “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments.” Credit: W. W. Norton & Company.



  • Saidiya Hartman - author, Guggenheim Fellow, professor at Columbia University