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This new book by Nina Banks expertly compiles the work of one of its pioneers, Sadie T.M. Alexander. Sadie Alexander was the first African American women to get a PhD in Economics, but has been forgotten by much of the profession due to discrimination and structural exclusion, phenomenon that are only now being recognized widely as a problem in Economics about a 100 years after Alexander received her doctorate. Banks documents how discrimination kept Sadie Alexander from being employed in the Economics academy, despite her many accomplishments, and how she also faced discrimination as a lawyer, which she trained as after the Economics profession failed to hire her. Nonetheless, Alexander continued to write about the economic and social conditions of African Americans and continued to, along with her husband, mount legal challenges to racial exclusion in Pennsylvania. The relevance of Alexander’s works today is put quite poignantly by Banks herself, and definitely merits reading:
“Remarkably, and tragically, the themes that our nation’s first African American economist addressed a hundred years ago with the beginning of African American migration to northern cities remain urgent, unaddressed problems today: chronic unemployment, confinement in urban slums, police brutality, voter suppression, poverty, inferior schools, substandard housing, and unsafe neighborhoods. I hope that reading Sadie Alexander’s speeches will motivate readers to think about the limitations, costs, and tremendous toll that anti-Blackness imposes on the lives of Black people as well as our larger communities, and to take action to correct the deep injustices that flow from it.”