“This exciting collection offers an up close and personal view of Black women’s grassroots politics across the U.S. in the late 1970s. With evocative portrait photographs accompanying vivid biographies, It’s Our Movement Now makes readers feel like we are on the ground at the National Women’s Conference. A great read.”—Annelise Orleck, author of Rethinking American Women’s Activism
“Returns to an iconic moment in the history of second-wave feminism, highlighting a diverse group of African American women. This is the story of the variety of ways that Black women responded to, and attempted to address, racial and gender discrimination, as well as the obstacles and challenges they encountered.”—Deanna M. Gillespie, author of The Citizenship Education Program and Black Women’s Political Culture
It’s Our Movement Now offers a panoramic view of Black feminist politics through the stories of a remarkable cross section of Black women who attended the 1977 National Women’s Conference. These women advocated for civil and women’s rights but also for accessibility, lesbians, sex workers, welfare recipients, laborers, and children.
The women featured in this book include icons Coretta Scott King and Michelle Cearcy, a teenager who served as a torchbearer at the conference. Contributors offer insights into the lives of Gloria Scott, Dorothy Height, Freddie Groomes-McLendon, and Jeffalyn Johnson. The profiles include activist organizers Georgia McMurray, Barbara Smith, Johnnie Tillmon, Addie Wyatt, and Florynce Kennedy. The hard-won achievements of politicians are examined and celebrated, including those of Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Maxine Waters, C. Delores Tucker, the first Black female secretary of state for Pennsylvania, and Yvonne Burke, one of the first Black women elected to Congress and the first representative to give birth while serving. The final profiles cover Clara McClaughlin, reporter Melba Tolliver, and photojournalist Diana Mara Henry, who shared the details of the conference and the continual work being done by Black women with others through various media channels. This book places the diversity of Black women’s experiences and their leadership at the center of the history of the women’s movement.
Laura L. Lovett, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, is author of With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism. Rachel Jessica Daniel is director of the Center for Employee Enrichment and Development and professor of English at Massasoit Community College. Kelly N. Giles is a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Publication of this work made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.