2017] INTERSECTIONAL LIFE AND TIMES OF LUTIE A. LYTLE 1985
enrolled in the Law Department of Central Tennessee College.8 When she
was appointed as an instructor at the College, moreover, she was the only
woman among the law school’s faculty.9 As a woman of African descent born
during Reconstruction, however, Lytle (and her story) “cannot be captured
wholly by” a methodology that moves only gender to the center.10 The
intersection (or overlap) of Lytle’s identities as a woman of color and the
daughter o f former slaves requi res that gender and race (and arguably, status
and class) move to the center. In other words, a biographical sketch of Lytle’s
life cannot privilege gender in isolation; it must also grapple with the
persistence of race, racism, and the myriad legacies of chattel slavery in the
Accordingly, this Essay pursues a sketch of Lytle’s life that might best be
understood as “womanist” in its approach.11 In her life and work, Lytle
exhibited a maturity beyond her years by boldly pursuing knowledge “in
1930, twenty-two black female lawyers can be identified from census records” and discussing th e
role of Lytle and other women that entered the legal profession around the same time); see also
infra notes 108–28 and accompanying text.
8. See infra note 98 and accompanying text.
9. See McDaniel, supra note 7, at 109 ( “[S]he joined Central’s faculty, becoming . . . the
first female law professor of a chartered school in the world.”).
10. Kimberle Crenshaw, Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence
Against Women of Color, 43 STAN. L. REV. 1241, 1244 (1991).
11. Alice Walker coined the term in 1988, defining “woman ist” as:
1. From womanish. (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e., frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A
black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mothers to
female children, “You acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually ref erring to
outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and
in greater depth than is considered “go od” for one. Interested in grown-up doings.
Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk
expression: “You trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious.
ALICE WALKER, IN SEARCH OF OUR MOTHERS’ GARDENS, at xi (1983) (emphasis in original).
2. Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates
and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural
counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual
men, sexually and/or nonsexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire
people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health.
Traditionally a universalist, as in: “Mama, why are we brown, pink, and yellow, and
our cousins are white, beige, and black?” A ns.: “Well, you know the colored race is
just like a flower garden, with every color flower represented. ” Traditionally capable,
as in: “Mama, I’m walking to Canada and I’m taking you and a bunch of other slaves
with me.” Reply: “I t wouldn’t be the first time.”
3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food
and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.
4. Womanist is to feminist as purple to lavender.
Id. at xi–xii.