... there is a dangerous trend observable in some quarters of the Movement to program Sapphire out of her "evil" ways into a cover-up, shut-up, lay-back-and-be-cool obedience role. She is being assigned an unreal role of mute servant that supposedly neutralizes the acidic tension that exists between Black men and Black women. She is being encouraged—in the name of revolution no less—to cultivate "virtues" that if listed would sound like the personality traits of slaves.
Toni Cade (b. 1939), African American author and political activist. The Black Woman, ch. 15 (1970).
Excerpted from "The Scattered Sopranoes," an autobiographical essay delivered as a lecture to the Livingston College Black Woman's Seminar in December 1969. Cade was speaking of the African American militant movement. "Sapphire" denoted a stereotypically domineering African American woman; it was derived from the comedy series Amos 'n' Andy (1951-1953 on television; on radio back into the 1920s), in which Sapphire was the beleaguered and beleaguering wife of the rapscallion leading character, George "Kingfish" Stevens. Cade would become well known as a fiction writer under the name Toni Cade Bambara.