#BlackHerstoryMonth 🎉 The perspectives of #BlackFeminists have consistently transformed the fights for gender equity and racial justice to ensure we can continue to build a world of equity, justice, and freedom for all. That’s why, all this month, we’re celebrating Black feminism and centering the work of powerful Black sheroes past and present doing the critical intersectional work to #EliminateRacism and #EmpowerWomen. Follow along as we center the unsung legacy of Black feminism: from Jane Crow to Intersectionality.
Kicking off #BlackHerstoryMonth with a tribute to Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray. Civil Rights advocate, feminist, lawyer, ordained priest, and creator of the term #JaneCrow.
A nearly lifelong activist for racial and gender equality, Pauli Murray became the first Black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1977. After graduating from Hunter College in NYC, she was denied admission to the University of North Carolina’s law school because she was Black and was turned down by Harvard University because she was a woman. These experiences with prejudice led Murray to become active in civil rights and women’s rights movements as an activist, scholar, author, poet, and founding member of the National Organization for Women.
Let’s give it up for Pauli! #BlackFeminist
During #BlackHerstoryMonth, we can’t talk about #BlackFeminists without uplifting the life and works of Audre Lorde. As a self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde dedicated her life to grappling with the critical and often intersecting injustices of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. She was a vigilant champion for Black queer women whose critiques of the racism within feminist movements offered a voice to Black women who often felt unseen and left behind. Her radical perspectives helped forge the way for the contemporary radical Black feminists of today and created pathways for unity across the social divides she navigated in her own life.
During #BlackHerstoryMonth, we celebrate Audre Lorde and all the space she made for black women — particularly those in the margins and intersections — to leave fear and silence behind and build the courage to lead the feminist movements of the future!
bell hooks was an author, professor, feminist, and social activist whose work focused on examining and uplifting the works of other Black writers while helping provide academic theory to support political organizing happening on the ground. Her extensive catalog of written works and academic lectures covered topics such as race, class, gender, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism. Some of her most well-known books are “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” and “Feminism is for Everybody” which are now considered standard texts in intersectional feminist circles.
We are beyond thankful for her constructive critiques and contributions to the feminist movement and know that we would be remiss if we didn’t uplift her legacy during #BlackHerstoryMonth.
Meet Kimberle Crenshaw, a pioneering civil rights advocate, professor, and leading critical race theory scholar known for not only working at the intersection of race and gender but for coining the term #intersectionality to call attention to how systems of oppression overlap to create distinct experiences for those with multiple identity categories. Among her many contributions is co-founding and founding and leading African American Policy Forum, an intersectional think tank behind campaigns such as #SayHerName, which calls attention to police violence against Black women and girls. #BlackHerstoryMonth
Among Alice Walker’s many contributions in writing and social activism was coining the term womanism in her 1983 collection of writings In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. Womanism is a form of feminism that centers the experiences of Black women and women of color to unite the movement at the intersection of race, gender, and class, and “gives us a word of our own,” as Walker explained. Learn more about womanism and its history: bit.ly/3Hl7siI
Angela Davis, a key figure in the U.S. civil rights movement, made significant contributions and influence in the fight for #racialjustice, women’s rights, and criminal justice reform. Through her activism and scholarship over the last decades, her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.
In recent years, her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination, drawing on her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”
Today, she continues to be an activist and lecturer as Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University.
Toni Morrison is one of the most celebrated authors in the world with her catalogue of books including, “The Bluest Eye,” “Song of Solomon,” and “Home.” Her work often grappled with issues of race, class, and gender equity, always with a focus on African American culture.
During her career, Toni Morrison won MANY prestigious awards including the Pulitzer Price, the presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was the first Black woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. No one could write on the experience of Black American life quite like her, and no one has since. Through her work at Random House publishing, she was also able to edit works and support other incredible Black writers such as Toni Cade Bambara, Gayl Jones, and Angela Davis.
Toni Morrison not only dedicated her work to sharing #BlackStories, but her dedication to making space for other Black women and authors to write about our history through the lenses of magical realism and historical fiction was unprecedented. The far-reaching impacts of her work cannot be understated, and her legacy is truly #legendary.
Roxane Gay is a writer, professor, editor, and social commentator whose New York Times best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist, made waves by taking a raw look at race, class, pop culture, and the state of feminism today. Through her writing, she provides her readers with an honest analysis of today’s feminist culture, while also providing an inspiring call-to-action on how we can still do better for each other today.
As a writer her work pulls builds upon the legendary Black women like Audre Lorde who came before her; ensuring their legacy remains while also curating herself as one of the fiercest #BlackFeminist voices of today. Outside of writing, Roxanne Gay’s work and nuanced social commentary continuously critiques existing inequalities and builds space for the possibilities for Black people, women, and the LGBTQA+ community.
We are grateful to Roxanne Gay for carrying the torch her foremothers forged, while continuing to challenge us all to humanize the flaws within modern social justice movements and inspiring us to be better allies and conspirators.
#DorothyHeight was one of the nation’s most steadfast civil rights activists, whose intersectional activism as our first Director of Racial Justice led to YWCA’s One Imperative to #EliminateRacism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary. #BHM2022