Exploring the history of Black feminism

So much of the guiding principles of our current framework to end gender-based violence was championed by the feminist movement of the 1960s. Occurring concurrently with the Civil Rights Movement. The women’s movement emerged with a drive to affirm women’s rights and power as citizens by addressing the patriarchy, and systemic subjugation of women. Although the feminist movement between the late 1800s and1920 was deeply connected to the abolishment of slavery and landed with the passage of the 19th amendment, alongside African American women leaders such as Sojourner Truth and Ida B Wells, the movement of the 19060’s steered away from advocating for racial minorities because it was felt that rights that were specific to women were being ignored. As a result, Black women were left behind and disregarded by white feminism.

Black feminism, however, centers on the experiences of African American women, understanding intersectionality between racism, sexism, and classism, as well as other social identities. Black feminism highlights and engages with the many aspects of racial inequities along with gender inequality. For Black history month, we honor the African American feminist and activist, past and present who worked tirelessly to change systems of oppression.

  • IDA B Wells– an African American civil rights advocate, journalist, and feminist of the late 19th Century and early 20th
  • Sojourner Truth– Sojourner Truth was an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist born into slavery.
  • Anna Julia Cooper– was a writer, teacher, and activist who championed education for African Americans and women
  • Francis Ellen Watkins Harper– the first African American woman to publish a short story, but she was also an influential abolitionist, suffragist, and reformer that co-founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
  • Mary Church Terrell– an African American activist who championed racial equality and women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Shirley Chisholm– the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress
  • Angela Davis– a radical African American educator and activist for civil rights and other social issues.
  • Bell Hooks– American scholar and activist whose work examined the connections between race, gender, and class.
  • Audre Lorde– A prominent member of the women’s and LGBTQ rights movements,
  • Kimberle Crenshaw an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.

Ending and addressing gender-based violence developed with theories of change institutionalized by white women feminists who rejected inclusivity and failed to consider the plight of women other than white middle-class women, doesn’t’ work. ICADV acknowledges that our movement has left others behind and made some identities more vulnerable to violence. As an organization, we focus on ending violence by addressing white supremacy and supremacist structures that oppress people based on race, gender, and a host of other identities. To learn more about our work see our Organizational inclusion plan and equity statement.

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