Friday, April 03, 2020


Article Index

Early Actions and Organizations in the Black Feminist Movement

The specific issues worked on in the Black Feminist Movement, according to Barbara Smith, were/are: reproductive rights, sterilization abuse, equal access to abortion, health care, child care, the rights of the disabled, violence against women, rape, battering, sexual harassment, welfare rights, lesbian and gay rights, aging, police brutality, labor organizing, anti-imperialist struggles, anti-racist organizing, nuclear disarmament, and preserving the environment. To this end, several organizations were established during the late 1970s and early 1980s. A partial listing of the organizations and some noteworthy events includes:

¥ 1973 Founding of the National Black Feminist Organization in New York.
¥ 1973 Founding of Black Women Organized for Action in San Francisco.
¥ 1974 Founding of the Combahee River Collective in Boston.
¥ 1977 First publishing of Azalea, a literary magazine for Third World lesbians.
¥ 1978 Varied Voices of Black Women concert tour.
¥ 1979 Publishing of Conditions: Five, the first widely distributed collection of Black feminist writings in the United States. (It also included a sizable amount of black lesbian writings.)
¥ 1979 The Combahee River Collective protest of the murders of twelve black women in Boston.
¥ 1980 First National Conference on Third World Women and Violence in Washington, DC.
¥ 1980 First National Hui (Conference) for Black Women in Otara, New Zealand.
¥ 1981 Establishment of a Third World women's clinic in Berkeley, CA.
¥ 1981 Establishment of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
¥ 1981 Establishment of the Black Women's Self-Help Collective in Washington, DC.
¥ 1981 First Black Dyke Hui in Auckland, New Zealand.

The two earliest organizations formed in the movement, the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) and Black Women Organized for Action (BWAO), clearly reflected the goals put forth in the Combahee River Collective Statement. (Although the statement had not yet been written at the time of their inception, the ideas and dialogue which influenced the statement were being created during that time.). Their membership included black women from all class levels; well-educated, middle-class women worked together with poorly-educated women on welfare to address issues that pertained to all of them. Because all of the women were affected by sexism as well as racism in their various fields of employment, these issues were specifically addressed by these organizations.