March 23, 2018 - Vol. 1, Issue 25
Black Women's Voice:
The Emergence of Intersectionality 6
Above, photograph of activists Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Gloria Steinem, taken by Dan Wynn for Esquire Magazine in 1971. 8

Jacqueline Finney Brown
Reverend Dr. Maisha Handy
Pearl Cleage
“Despite their efforts, many African American women felt discrimination from racial bias in the women’s suffrage movement.” 1 -Susan Brownmiller, In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution.

When speaking specifically of African American women’s agency in the woman’s movement, one has to address the interlocking system of oppression seen in the interplay between race, class and gender. However, the intersectionality addressed by third wave and fourth wave feminism was not readily acknowledged by earlier white feminists.

Winifred Breines states in The Trouble Between Us: An Uneasy History of White and Black Women in the Feminists Movement states, “Black women entered alliances with white women with the expectation that a raised consciousness of female oppression led to a constructive sensitivity towards other forms of subordinating oppressions. When many white feminists remained blind to major class and race differences, black feminists felt betrayed.” 2

Therapist and government administrator Jacqueline Finney Brown remembers the racial division within the second wave feminist movement: “The women’s movement for me, when I came along, was basically a white women’s movement…you’re talking about burning bras to a person who couldn’t buy a bra in the store where you were selling them because you would’ve told me to leave the store because colored weren’t allowed to try on clothes.” 3 [Jacqueline Finney Brown, THMDA 2.7.1] . Evelyn M. Simien in Black Feminists Voices in Politics agrees, “By now, it is well-known that feminist organizations experienced problems recruiting and mobilizing black women because the movement for women’s rights was driven by the aims and objectives of white middle-class women who treated the interests of black women as secondary to their own. Choosing not to participate in the white-dominated mainstream feminist organizations, many black women formed their own organizations.” 4

One such divergent branch was birthed in poet and activist Alice Walker’s concept of womanism . Minister and professor Reverend Dr. Maisha Handy , speaks to womanist theory: “ Black women felt that a lot of the concerns around the feminist movement largely again centered around white women and their concerns. And the issue of race, particularly, was not addressed. And so what womanist theology says is that you can’t talk about sexism and gender issues without also talking about racism. And you can’t talk about sexism and racism without also talking about classism in the ways in which class affects women, and particularly, women of color, but that those areas and those different isms, if you will, form a matrix or an intersection. And you have to analyze them simultaneously rather than as separate issues…for the purpose of liberating everybody and not just one particular group.” 5 [Reverend Dr. Maisha Handy, THMDA 1.4.4]

However, writer and poet Pearl Cleage , concludes, “Call yourself a womanist. Call yourself a free black woman. Call yourself an Amazon warrior. Whatever it is we call ourselves, as long as we’re dealing with the feminist issues, it’s fine with me. I do think we give up something when we throw away the word feminism, because I love the word. It connects us to a history. It connects us to a world of people who have been trying to do things for years and years and years. So that for us to say because we met some racist white American women who call themselves feminist, the word is tainted and we’re not gonna use it. I think it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I think it’s a great word. I think that feminism has a noble wonderful history, and I think that we have been a part of it and we have a right to claim it. If people are uncomfortable with it, I say name yourself what you will, but continue to be involved in what the struggle requires.” 6 [Pearl Cleage, THMDA 1.3.2].

For our subscribing institutions, to further immerse yourself in our discussion about black female agency for Women’s History Month, check out our curated playlist of stories. To do so, copy and paste the below URL to the tail end of your university’s specific URL for The HistoryMakers Digital Archive.

For example: [Your Institution URL] + [Playlist Tail]

Playlist Tail: stories/6;IDList=64782%2C435010%2C174794%2C203076%2C483969%2C290078%2C187178%2C187177%2C587652%2C372044%2C178134%2C100950%2C227955%2C227957%2C227956%2C649185%2C12868;ListTitle=Black%20Female%20Agency

The HistoryMakers Remembers Journalist Les Payne 9
We at The HistoryMakers are incredibly saddened by the passing of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists Les Payne earlier this week on March 19, 2018.

When interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 10, 2006, Payne said of his decision to be interviewed for our archive: “ It looks like an earnest attempt to preserve, for scholars and for students and for citizens that are interested, the lives of people that you've selected, and to get some sense of their backgrounds, to get some sense of their thinking, to get some sense of their beginnings, and I think that's an honest kind of thing…When I was a young reporter, I noticed that every time a gypsy moth would fall on a white person's lawn, Newsday would be there with two reporters and a photographer, and yet, when the same gypsy moth fell on our lawn, nobody was there, so I said, ‘Well, you have to correct that.’ So I'm a sucker for people who try to correct wrongs, and I think that, in some important way perhaps, what you're doing is trying to fill in some of those gaps here that I've concerned a good deal of my life with.” 7 [Les Payne, THMDA 1.7.7]
Please share with us your stories of how you incorporate The HistoryMakers Digital Archive into your curriculum and research. We'd love to hear from you!

This week, 26 new interviews were added to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive:
Kathleen Bertrand

Jazz singer and nonprofit executive Kathleen Bertrand (1951 - ) was an executive of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for thirty-two years. She released five jazz albums, and penned the national theme song for the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.
Shelley Fisher

Singer and pianist Shelley Fisher (1942 - ) toured nationally and internationally for over thirty years. He also acted in various stage productions and films, and authored a autobiography titled 'A Motherless Child.'
Mildred Gill Arbor

Singer Mildred Gill Arbor (1941 - ) was an original member of the classic Motown group, The Velvelettes.
Norma Fairhurst

Singer Norma Fairhurst (1943 - ) was an original member of the classic Motown group, The Velvelettes, known for records like ‘There He Goes’ and ‘Needle In A Haystack.’
David Wilson

Journalist and media executive David Wilson (1977 - ) wrote and directed the film Meeting David Wilson and cofounded
Sandra Hughes

Broadcast journalist Sandra Hughes (1946 - ) was the first African American female talk show host in the Piedmont region and the first African American woman to host PM Magazine in the Southeast.

Leonard Burnett, Jr.

Magazine publishing chief executive Leonard Burnett, Jr. (1964 - ) was the cofounder of Vanguarde Media and cofounder and co-CEO of Uptown Ventures, the publisher of Uptown magazine. He was also author of Black is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans.
William Whitley

Architect and business chief executive William Whitley (1934 - ) served as vice principal and project principal of Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC.
Chaz Ebert

Entertainment manager Chaz Ebert (1952 - ) was a litigation attorney, until her marriage to film critic Roger Ebert. She then managed his business ventures, including the Ebertfest film festival,, and The Ebert Company, even after his death in 2013.

Donald Hudson

College football coach Donald Hudson (1929 - ) served as the head football coach of Macalester College from 1971. He was the first African American head coach at a predominantly white university in the modern NCAA era.
Vera Ricketts

Pharmacist and civic leader Vera Ricketts (1922 - ) was president of the Inglewood Pacific Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and a founding member of the Theta Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
John Finney

Nonprofit executive John Finney (1938 - ) served as executive director of the Equal Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County Area Inc. (EOA) from 1973 to 2017.

Richard X. Clark

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark (1946 - 2015 ) was one of the inmate leaders of the 1971 Attica Prison riot. He was also the author of The Brothers of Attica.
Regina Jollivette Frazier

Association branch executive and pharmacist Regina Jollivette Frazier (1943 - ) served as the national president of The Links, Incorporated and the director of pharmacy for the University of Miami Hospitals and Clinics.
Gary Gayton

Civil rights lawyer Gary Gayton (1933 - ) represented Black Panther Party members and other civil rights cases in Seattle, Washington. He also served as a high ranking official in the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Jimmy Carter.
Timothy Francis

Lawyer Timothy Francis (1958 - ) was a civic leader in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he advised Mayor Marc H. Morial. He represented institutions like Xavier University of Louisiana and Dillard University in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The Honorable C. Ellen Connally

The Honorable C. Ellen Connally (1945 - ) served as a judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court from 1980 to 2004. She was the first African American female judge elected in Ohio without first being appointed.
The Honorable Audrey Collins

Federal district court judge The Honorable Audrey Collins (1945 - ) served in the Central District of California from 1994 to 2013. She was the court's chief judge from 2009 to 2012.

The Honorable Willie Logan

Mayor The Honorable Willie Logan (1957 - ) was elected mayor of Opa-locka, Florida in 1980. He also served on the Florida House of Representatives from 1982 to 2000 and is the founder, president, and CEO of the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation.

Lawrence Carter

Religion professor and chapel dean Lawrence Carter (1941 - ) was a professor and chapel dean at Morehouse College, and worked to promote and preserve the legacy of civil rights leaders around the world.

David Richards

Paratrooper, chief warrant officer and military officer David Richards (1929 - ) conducted over 11,000 parachute operations on behalf of the U.S. Army, and was inducted into the Parachute Rigger Warrant Officer’s Hall of Fame.

Ivan Yaeger

Engineer Ivan Yaeger (1967 - ) invented the Yaeger Prosthetic Arm in 1987. He served as founder and CEO of the Yaeger Innovative Products Corporation and the Yaeger Foundation, which later combined to become The Yaeger Companies.
Alexandria Holloway

Musician and academic administrator Alexandria Holloway (1947 - ) taught at Miami Dade College, where she served as chairperson of the music department and founded the JUBA Gospel Ensemble.
Virginia Edwards Maynor

School superintendent Virginia Edwards Maynor (1945 - ) served in various positions in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School system for over thirty years. She was the school district’s first African American female superintendent, from 1998 to her retirement in 2001.

Reuben Harpole

Academic administrator Reuben Harpole (1934 - ) served as a community development administrator for the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin for 31 years, where he co-founded the Center for Urban Community Development.

Tracy Reese

Fashion designer Tracy Reese (1964 - ) launched her namesake line in 1996, and went on to create Tracy Reese Plenty, Frock! and Tracy Reese Black Label. She dressed First Lady Michelle Obama and advocated for diversity in fashion.
1. Susan Brownmiller, In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution. The Dial Press, November 7, 1999.
2. Winifred Breines, The Trouble Between Us: An Uneasy History of White and Black Women in the Feminists Movement. Oxford University Press, 2007.
3. Jacqueline Finney Brown (The HistoryMakers A2007.166), interviewed by Cheryl Butler, September 24, 2007, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 2, tape 7, story 1, Jacqueline Finney Brown talks about the feminist movement and the womanist movement
4. Evelyn M. Simien, Black Feminists Voices in Politics. SUNY Press, 2012.
5. Reverend Dr. Maisha Handy (The HistoryMakers A2005.200), interviewed by Larry Crowe, August 22, 2005, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 4, story 4, Reverend Dr. Maisha Handy describes womanist theology
6. Pearl Cleage (The HistoryMakers A2004.177), interviewed by Jodi Merriday, September 23, 2004, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 3, story 2, Pearl Cleage remembers how she came to join the feminist movement in the 1970s
7. Les Payne (The HistoryMakers A2006.071), interviewed by Shawn Wilson, April 10, 2006, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 7, story 7, Les Payne talks about why he decided to share his story
8. BANNER PHOTO: Dorothy Pitman-Hughes and Gloria Steinem, originally taken by Dan Wynn for Esquire magazine, 1971. Can be found at:
9. Les Payne, Photo. Style Magazine Newswire, 5.4.2016. Can be found at:
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