Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers

Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers

Black Feminism remains a foundational theory and practice guiding social justice movements for Black lives.

On Thursday, Jan 21 of Creating Change our Opening Plenary featured a panel with Charlene Carruthers, Reina Gossett and Barbara Smith.

Black Feminism challenges us to act on the inextricable connections of sexism, class oppression, racism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia. As the contemporary Movement for Black Lives has invigorated resistance to racism and structural violence, this panel reflects on ways that Black Feminism shapes and informs the current struggles and successes.

Barbara Smith, beginning in the 1970s, has broken new ground as a black feminist, lesbian, activist, author, publisher, and elected official. Barbara co-founded the Combahee River Collective in 1974. The organization wrote the Combahee River Collective Statement that is one of the earliest explorations of the intersection of multiple oppressions, including racism and heterosexism, critiquing both sexual oppression in the black community and racism within the wider feminist movement. Barbara Smith founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, publisher of numerous pivotal works by feminists of color. Barbara served two terms on the Albany (NY) Common Council and currently works in the City of Albany Mayor’s Office spearheading initiatives that address economic, racial, and social inequality.

Reina Gossett is an activist, writer, and artist and the 2014-2016 Activist-In-Residence at Barnard College’s Center for Research on Women. She served as membership director at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, lifting the voices and power of trans and gender non-conforming people. Reina was awarded the George Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship by the Open Society Foundation to work with LGBT people navigating criminalization. During her fellowship she partnered with Critical Resistance to curtail the prison industrial complex by organizing low income LGBTGNC New Yorkers in a campaign that successfully stopped construction of a new jail in the Bronx. Reina co-wrote and co-directed the new film Happy Birthday, Marsha!, highlighting the life of legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha P. Johnson.

Charlene Carruthers is a Black, queer, feminist community organizer and writer with over ten years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work. She currently serves as the national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), an activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. With a focus on intersectional liberation, Charlene’s organizing spans a broad range of topics. She currently serves as a board member of SisterSong, a reproductive justice organization that promotes solidarity among women of color, as well as being a member of a historic 2015 delegation of young activists to Palestine, building solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements.

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