Fighting for Women's Equality

10 Black Women Making History

February 8, 2018 | by

During Black History Month, it’s important not just to celebrate the incredible past contributions to the fight for racial justice – we must uplift those women making history now.

So to kick off a month of celebrating black women here on our blog and on Instagram, we’re recognizing a few that are organizing, writing, and speaking to achieve racial and gender justice for women across the country. Through their work centered on the experiences and needs of Black women, all women are uplifted. 

  1.  Kimberlé Crenshaw

There is no better place to start a list of Black women making history than with Kimberlé Crenshaw. An advocate and scholar, Crenshaw developed the theory of intersectionality – that for women of color, gender and race discrimination are inherently linked and must both be addressed to achieve true equity. Watch Crenshaw discuss “the urgency of intersectionality.”

  1.    Wagatwe Wanjuki

Wanjuki is a writer, activist and speaker on gender-based violence. A survivor of campus sexual assault, she uses her written and social media platforms to call out the ways violence in education impacts young women of color. Check out her campaign #JustSaySorry and her letter to the university administrators who failed to support her.

  1.    Venkayla Haynes

Still in college, Haynes is organizing and leading the national conversation on campus sexual assault and its impact on young Black women. She is a regional adviser for It’s On Us, serves on the advisory council for the Biden Foundation, and works for the survivor-led organization Know Your IX. Read her open letter to Candice Jackson, Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

  1.    Chardonnay Madkins

Madkins works as the Program and Operators Director for End Rape on Campus, where she seeks to end sexual violence in education through survivor support and education, and policy advocacy. She has been vocal about the unique experiences of Black women survivors and barriers they face when reporting sexual assault – read her thoughts in the Los Angeles Times.

  1.    Charlene Carruthers

Charlene is the National Director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) where she mobilizes Black millennials to fight for racial, economic, and gender justice. Check out this interview with Carruthers to learn more about what drives her and leads her to activism.

  1.    Alicia Garza

Garza is a lifelong activist for racial and economic justice, and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. She currently leads special projects for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, fighting for civil rights protections for domestic workers, who are overwhelmingly immigrant women. Read Alicia’s reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

  1.    Monique Morris

Even if you haven’t heard of Dr. Morris, you’ve likely heard of her work – she coined the term “pushout” to describe the ways in which young Black women are excessively disciplined and effectively pushed out of school based on gender and racial stereotypes. Her work listening to the lived experiences of Black girls made her last year’s ERA Champion of Justice. Read more about “pushout” and then buy her book to learn more.

  1.    Nzingha Dugas

Dugas is the inaugural Director for African American Female Excellence for Oakland Unified School District. And she is already leading innovating and groundbreaking initiatives to address the barriers Black girls across the district face – schools across the country should take note. Learn more about these initiatives (of which ERA is a proud partner!) here.

  1.    Clarissa Brooks

This fall, a campaign swept Atlanta’s HBCU’s – #WeKnowWhatYouDid. Clarissa, a senior at Spelman College, brought national attention to the campaign and its mission to hold university administrators accountable for (not) responding to campus sexual assault. Read her article in Teen Vogue on the realities of sexual assault on HBCU campuses.

  1.   Ida B. Wells

Well, technically Wells already made history – but she continues to inspire those leading the way today. 100 years before Crenshaw coined intersectionality, Ida B. Wells’ early reportage showed how racism colluded with sexism to uniquely oppress Black women. She exposed the racial lies behind Jim Crow and fought for the inclusion of Black women in the suffragist movement. Hers is a model for inclusion and intersectional social justice we all should follow.

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