It’s not easy to come up with the perfect definition of a feminist, and it is even more complex to define Black feminists. But why should we? Black feminism is shape-shifting and ever changing.
The one thing we do know about our favorite feminists is that each has found her own way to lift the conversation and open the doors for Black women and girls. These women haven’t waited for the doors to be opened for them. They kicked them open and brought so many of us with them.
As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we shine a spotlight on eight women who are helping shape a bright future for us all.
Sarah Jones has been on the stage giving voice to the voiceless women of all ages and ethnicities through her one-woman shows for over a decade. It was her groundbreaking show on Broadway, Bridges and Tunnels, that first caught our attention. But it is her unflinching, in your face characters that keep us coming back.
Angelica Ross, founder of Trans Tech Social Enterprises, is pushing to create economic opportunities and safe workspaces for the LGBTQ community and specifically empowering transgender individuals. Her team teaches web design, coding and other skills to give them a leg up in the workplace.
Sevonna Brown, Human Rights Project Manager for Black Women’s Blueprint, isn’t taking no for an answer. Brown is committed to putting an end to the pervasive sexual violence against Black women and girls. Her grassroots organization does its thing through advocacy, community education and holding people accountable for their actions.
The Blueprint is focused on preventing violence and abuse and is building a base of grassroots advocates willing to go where they need to in order to break down the barriers to reproductive justice through a womanist perspective.
Charlene Carruthers, National Director of BYP100, is a Black, queer community organizer and writer who calls out racial and gender injustice loudly, fiercely and unapologetically. Through her work and passion at BYP 100, she’s helping to build a big and open table for young Black activists, ages 18-35, both male and female, across the country.
Vivian Anderson, like many of the Black feminists on the scene, is working with Black women and girls to actively be the change they want to see.
Anderson, who is a New York member/organizer for Black Lives Matter, works to highlight the disparities between Black girls and those of other races and ethnicities that impact their lives. Their work includes sharing the stories of disproportionately high rates of suspension and expulsion in the education system.
Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D
Michelle Ferrier, PH.D., founder of Troll-Busters, has been a journalist and teacher for many years, but it was when she saw how social media could viciously turn on women writers, that she took a big stand. In 2015, Troll-Busters took on cyberbullying, teaching women how to stand up and protect themselves as they exercise their rights to speak out. Ferrier was awarded one of the SXSW Community Service Awards in 2017 for her work with Troll-Busters.
Tamika Mallory, Co-Chair of the Women’s March, is not new to activism. But the hate and violence she saw rear its head after the election. She became one of the four national co-chairs of the Women’s March on January 21, 2017, that drew hundreds of thousands of women to events in Washington and all over the world. But Mallory knows the work does not end with the march—it just begins there.
Sherri Wiliams, Ph.D
Sherri Williams, Ph.D., Research Fellow at the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Race, Gender and Politics in the South at Wake Forest University, is a voice for Black women and the way they are portrayed in in the media. She takes on television, movies and the music industry about the way they shape the images of women. (Williams is also a contributor to NBCBLK)
Tamika D. Mallory and Vivian Anderson will be honored at The Gloria Awards, the Ms. Foundation for Women’s largest annual event, celebrating activists, innovators, and philanthropists who ignite policy and culture change on behalf of women and their communities nationwide.