Celebrating Black Women's History in April 2020 and for 365 Days Per Year
It may seem confusing at first to learn that April was declared "Black Women's History Month"-I mean we just finished celebrating Women's History Month which has long been acknowledged in March since March 8 was designated as International Women's Day. Some might ask, "Isn't it divisive to set aside a separate month to tell the stories of Black women-famous and anonymous-whose actions often changed the course of history?" Could this be considered "scholarly segregation?" I might reply that a painful truth of the Suffrage and Feminist Movements is that they were-and are-plagued by racism as was and is the larger culture in which these fights for equal rights took place. I remember very well the many times arguments broke out at meetings and festivals etc. regarding the make up of the "second wave feminist movement"-that we were "warriors" in a mostly white, middle class "struggle."
I am no expert on this issue-not via my personal experiences since I took my first steps into the feminist movement in the 1970's or via any extensive scholarly research into the Suffrage Movement and Race. I do think there's a brutally honest "conversation" we've never had about this part of the fight for women's rights throughout our history up to this very minute. Given that this is the 100th year anniversary of women finally winning the right to vote, I intend to share columns, articles and other types of work by those who DO have expertise about this profoundly important issue. I invite all of you to do the same; that conversation must start sometime-why not now? <Jeanne>
"The suffragist heroes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony seized control of the feminist narrative of the 19th century. Their influential history of the movement still governs popular understanding of the struggle for women’s rights and will no doubt serve as a touchstone for commemorations that will unfold across the United States around the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020...
"...That narrative, in the six-volume “History of Women’s Suffrage,” betrays more than a hint of vanity when it credits the Stanton-Anthony cohort with starting a movement that actually had diverse origins and many mothers. Its worst offenses may be that it rendered nearly invisible the black women who labored in the suffragist vineyard and that it looked away from the racism that tightened its grip on the fight for the women’s vote in the years after the Civil War..."( Brent Staples)
"Black Women’s History Month is about unifying the community by promoting visibility, education, empowerment, contribution and achievement which positively impacts communities across the globe." (Facebook Page for Black Women's History Month)