If ya don’t know, now ya know. Black Feminists that you need to know.

It’s Black History Month! Unapologetically, the greatest month of the year (even though it’s the shortest month but whateva). Black History Month is frequently spent praising the accomplishments of prominent black men such as MLK, Thurgood Marshall, and President Barack Obama. Although these men broke barriers for the black community, they were not the only contributors to Black progress. One thing we won’t tolerate this year and going forward is the erasure of black womxn in the movements towards black and women’s liberation. If the only black feminist that you know is Beyonce, you’re at a good start; but baby, let’s expand your repertoire.

Angela Davis

 “[Angela Davis, half-length portrait].” Original black and white negative by Bernard Gotfryd. Taken 1974, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 https://www.loc.gov/item/2006679789/

First, we have to acknowledge the self-identified “communist, abolitionist, internationalist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, black, queer, activist, pro-working class, revolutionary, intellectual commununity builder,” Angela Davis. Known for her radical and monumental involvement in the Black Panther Party, Angela Davis dedicated her entire life to the liberation of Black people, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. Davis also contributed to the conversation of pushing the feminist movement to include individuals of various identities who face systemic oppression. In her 2019 lecture titled, “Frameworks for Radical Feminism in the 21st Century,” Davis said that “Any feminism that will help us transform the world today must be capable of including perspectives that challenge white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, the prison industrial complex, attacks on the environment, militarism and war.”

Alice Walker is known for coining the term “womanist” and creating the concept of womanism. The term has many definitions such as a  “Black feminist or feminist of color” or  “a woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually.” Womanism emerged as a way to identify and highlight the unique experiences of black womxn who are doubled down with racism and sexism in our society. Walker also contributed to the feminist movement through her various depictions of women in literature. One of her most notable novels is The Color Purple. This phenomenal coming of age tale is what led Walker to become the first black woman to win a Pullizter Prize for fiction. Alice Walker’s literature shows the varying layers and complexities of black womanhood. 

Alice Walker

Alice Walker. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/139_1915118/1/139_1915118/cite. Accessed 31 Jan 2021.

Madam c.j. walker

Madam C. J. Walker, US businesswoman. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/132_1250158/1/132_1250158/cite. Accessed 31 Jan 2021.

Madam C.J. Walker or as I like to call her “Money Bags” Madam CJ, respectfully, is the true definition of a self-made millionaire. In 1913, Madam C.J. Walker became the first woman millionaire in America from the success of her cosmetics and hair care line for black women, Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. Her grit and work-ethic set a precedent for self-made millionaires, entrepreneurs, and cosmetologists around the world.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM (1924-2005). American politician, announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination. Photograph by Thomas O’Halloran, 1972.

SHirley Chisholm

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm took the courageous step to seek the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. Chisholm became the first woman to seek the presidential nomination and the first black woman in Congress in 1968. Shirley Chisholm’s courage paved the way for various women to hold public office in America. Vice-President Kamala Harris cites Shirley Chishlom as an inspiration and paid homage to her at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration by wearing purple.

Tarana Burke

You may have thought that the #MeToo Movement was created by a white woman due to the overwhelming representation of upper-class white women in the media. However, in 2006, the “me too.” movement was founded by Tarana Burke, a black woman, sexual abuse survivor and activist from The Bronx, New York. The purpose of this organization was to unite survivors of sexual violence across various communities, namely, Black, queer, trans, disabled, and all communities of color. In 2017, the phrase “me too” emerged in society as a phrase of bravery when millions of survivors took to social media to tell their stories. Tarana Burke’s activism created a space and national platform for sexual abuse survivors to tell their stories and connect with a community of other survivors. 

Today, we talked about five black feminists that you should know. However, these individuals only reflect a small portion of the millions of black womxn around the world who have dedicated their entire lives to the liberation of the various communities with whom they identify. I hope this post inspires you to explore further and deeper into the intersectional feminist movement. And in the words of the late and great Notorious B.I.G, “If ya don’t know, now ya know.”

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