African American Women in the Twenty-First Century
African American women have been rendered invisible for much of history. Although they have held the torch for movements including black empowerment and women empowerment, they have been scarcely acknowledged, and often deliberately suppressed. “Who will speak for us, if we do not speak for ourselves?”, asks Angela Davis in this powerful 1989 talk to African American college students. She discusses how African American women’s unique positionality in history and in society enables them to speak up and speak out against many different forms of oppression, and that they ought to take a leading role in social justice movements from abortion to gay rights. However they also need to be critical and make sure their own voices aren’t being suppressed in the process.
Angela Davis is one of the iconic figures of this era. Acquitted on conspiracy charges in 1970, after one of the most famous trials in U.S. history, she went on to become an internationally renowned writer, scholar, and lecturer. She is professor emerita at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has been at the forefront of the movement focusing on the prison industrial complex and its intersection with race, class and gender. She is the author of many books including Women, Race and Class, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Abolition Democracy, and Freedom is a Constant Struggle.