Historical Movements Black Feminist Essay

Length: 8 pages Sources: 5 Type: Essay Paper: #56780512 Related Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Feminist Movement, Working Class, 20th Century Published November 11, 2022
Excerpt from Essay :

Black Feminist


The black feminist roots can be traced to 1864 when slavery had not yet been abolished, and Sojourner Truth began selling pictures mounted to a paper card to fund her activism. After being enslaved, being in a position to own and sell her image for profit was revolutionary. According to Peterson (2019), Truth often commented that she used to be sold for other peoples benefit, but now she sold herself for her own. Her activism was mainly centered on the abolishment of slavery and securing the rights of women since she was convinced race and gender were inseparable. Truths activism is an early representation of the early black tradition. While the vision may differ in the different collectives of feminists in the cause of time, the foundational principles that exist are black womens experiences of racism, classism, and sexism; their distinct view of the world from that of white men and women as well as black men; and need to address racism, sexism, and classism simultaneously.

Black women have been part of the Black Liberation Movement since slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, Black Panthers, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Black Nationalism. However, while these movements were interested in the black races liberation but were not specific to the needs of the women as members of the community and U.S citizens (Peterson, 2019). The women in these movements experienced sexism from their male colleagues and members from other ethnicities, including women. While they participated in the activism for the black community, the efforts were mainly nuanced towards the redemption of dignity for black masculinity.

The emergence of feminist movements in the 1960s attracted participation by black women but was met with racism and disapproval. Black women were only invited to participate in conferences specific to black women and women from third-world countries. Consequently, the emergence of black activism was necessary since the issues addressed in these conferences did not resonate with their lived experiences (Taylor, 1998). This marginalization within and out of the black liberalization movements resulted in the need for black feminism to lobby for the unique needs of black women. Such needs included the right to work and earn a living, access to education, and independence in making fertility decisions.

History of Black Feminism

As established, the black feminism movement has been a lifelong struggle advocating for the welfare and liberation of black women. Black women have a long-term negative relationship with the contemporary political system, which is predominantly occupied by white men subjecting women at a macro level to their perception of what is needed by women. This view is oblivious to the unique needs of the black women subjecting them to a governance system that influences their lives in overt and subtle ways (Taylor, 1998). Some leading women in the black feminist movement are Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Harriet Tubman, Frances E. W. Harper, and Mary Church Terrell. They held the view that their sexual identity and racial identity were factors that contributed to their disenfranchisement.

The black feminist movement occurred in the second American Womens Movement wave in the late 1960s. Women in third world countries, America, and women in the working class were a participant in the feminist movement from its beginning but due to the differences in the lived experiences of black women in the U.S., third world countries, and women in the working class. A reaction to the pervasive elitism and racism in the movement obscures their participation (Peterson, 2019). In 1973, black feminists originally located in New York felt the need to form a separate black feminist movement that was eventually known as the National Black Feminist Organization (NFBO). Most of the leaders of the black feminist movement were part of the black liberation in the 1960s and 1970s. The ideologies purveyed by these individuals were greatly influenced by the ideologies, objectives, and tactics employed to achieve their desires (Webster, 2022). The political position of the black feminist movement led to the development of antiracists, unlike the objectives of white women, and anti-sexists, unlike those of white and black men. Initially, women viewed their struggles as a result of subjugation by men and identified the systematic challenges that contributed to their disenfranchisement. In the black liberation movements, black women were hypersexualized in media and within the movement.

Areas in difference in the National Feminist Movement

Some of the differences between the black and white women in the national feminist movement were mainly centered on the racism experience out and within the movement and differences in their economic…a solid front on such issues was critical to creating a momentum that would lead to successful changes in policy and instigate change in the cultural norms.

According to the collective, the challenge in inorganizing black feminists to rally behind the changes they needed towards change was the need to address the challenges identified simultaneously and differences in focus. The resources at the disposal of the feminist movement that was budding were limited, leaving them with no leverage to help in articulating their aspirations and challenges. Some of the areas where the collective felt it did not have leverage and privilege that other political groups would rely on were racial, sexual, heterosexual, or class privilege (Reed, 2019). The consistent encounter with the challenges that disproportionately affected black women, particularly lesbians, was mentally exhausting, leading to some of the core members abandoning the causes halfway, resulting in a consistent front in lobbying for change. Intimidation by the government also contributed to the lack of support from allies locally and internationally.


Groups, such as the Combahee River Collective, also faced some backlash from the black community since the norms or customs they held were contrary to the beliefs of the black community that for long-held Christian values. Further, feminism among black men was perceived as a threat to their role in the black family as patriarchs and the womens contribution to the civil rights movement. Further, this emergence of black feminist movements was counterproductive to the civil rights movements efforts. However, efforts and measures established by the collective have today expanded to include members of the LGBTQ community (Reed, 2019). Today, there has been a change in the perception of black womens role in society, with more black women being appointed or elected into public offices of influence. Further, the attitudes towards the efforts made to lobby for equality for black women, men, and the queer members of the community have changed to more accepting norms of the autonomy of the black woman. The efforts and measures are taken by the black feminist movement that is now more than in the 20th century with different areas of interest as led to kore success while addressing the challenges associated with equality among genders and issues that are still persistent, such as systematic…

Sources Used in Documents:


Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics. University Of Chicago Legal Forum: V, 1(8). Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=uclf.

Nast, C. (2022). How Black Feminists Defined Abortion Rights. The New Yorker. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://www.newyorker.com/news/essay/how-black-feminists-defined-abortion-rights.

Peterson, M. (2019). The Revolutionary Practice of Black Feminisms. National Museum of African American History and Culture. Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/revolutionary-practice-black-feminisms.

Reed, A. (2019). The Combahee River Collective Statement [Ebook]. The University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 24 June 2022, from https://americanstudies.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Keyword%20Coalition_Readings.pdf.

Taylor, U. (1998). The Historical Evolution of Black Feminist Theory and Praxis. Journal Of Black Studies, 29(2), 234-253. https://doi.org/10.1177/002193479802900206Webster, S. (2022). A Qualitative Study of the Evolution and Erasure of Black Feminism in Historic and Contemporary Sociopolitical Movements, And Black Men’s Resistance to Black Feminism. Mcnair Scholars Research Journal, 10(15). Retrieved 23 June 2022, from https://commons.emich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1124&context=mcnair .

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