About Mary Cordelia Montgomery Booze:
Born Mary Montgomery in March 1878 to parents who had been enslaved when young, she grew up in the Mississippi Delta. Her father, Isaiah T. Montgomery (1847-1924), was a cotton producer politically allied with the famous Republican educator Booker T. Washington. In 1887, the Montgomerys moved to Bolivar County south of Clarksdale in the rich delta country of northwestern Mississippi. There Montgomery founded an all-black agricultural community, Mound Bayou, located along the Mississippi River. Mary was educated locally before going to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she studied for two years at the historically black Straight University. She returned to Mound Bayou and worked as a bookkeeper in the family business. She also taught at the teacher-training Mound Bayou Normal Institute.
Despite state restrictions that effectively disenfranchised most blacks, Booze joined the Republican Party. Beginning in 1924, she served as a committeewoman from Mississippi to the Republican National Committee, the first African-American woman to hold that position.
About Shennette Garrett-Scott:
Shennette [pronounced SHUH-net] Garrett-Scott is an associate professor of history and African American studies at the University of Mississippi. Her research focuses on race, gender, and capitalism. Her first book Banking on Freedom, a history of Black women in banking published by Columbia University Press in 2019, was shortlisted for the 2020 Hagley Prize for the best book in business history and won the Southern Historical Association’s award for best book in southern economic history. Banking on Freedom won best book in African American women’s history prizes from the Association of Black Women Historians and the Organization of American Historians. She serves on the Handbook of Texas Women Executive Advisory Committee of the Texas State Historical Association, on the boards of the Mississippi Historical Society and the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and as the National Vice Director of the Association of Black Women Historians. She is featured in the PBS documentary Boss: The Black Experience in Business and the short documentary series about women’s suffrage for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Follow her on Twitter at @EbonRebel.