The Shirley Chisholm Project

In an interview with Isaac Fitzgerald of Buzzfeed News, Dr. Zinga Fraser discussed the the various moral, personal and political considerations that Shirley Chisholm faced during her first days as a Congresswoman in January 1969.

Dr. Fraser points out that after running an “Unbought and Unbossed” campaign—and as the only Black woman in Congress at the time— Chisholm found herself in a challenging position, both as an independent leader and as an individual confronting the racism and sexism of her day. Accordingly, Dr. Fraser observes, Chisholm could not be  “sure about her alliances and the connections to her colleagues.”

With the the nation watching her as the first Black woman in Congress, and a political system that expected freshman legislators to simply follow orders, Fraser adds that it was also an “important time” for Chisholm “to represent her district.”

Among other things, Fraser discussed Chisholm’s legendary fight against what she called “the senility system”—a system that dictated only the most senior and well-connected politicians dictated who sat on Congressional committees. She also discussed the way that Chisholm innovated new ways to effect change for the marginalized in a static, elitist political system, as well the upcoming biopic on the Congresswoman’s life that stars Viola Davis. When asked to give advice on how what the Amazon production (and similar forthcoming projects) can do justice to Chisholm’s legacy, Fraser offered this:

It requires a significant amount of historical background and analysis.  We really hope that people stay true to Chisholm’s advocacy, the issues that she spoke about, to infuse that into who she was. And also have a nuanced understanding. She wasn’t just a boring congressional member—she was on fire, she loved dance, she was full of life.

Dr. Fraser’s analysis of Chisholm’s entry into Washington also serves as a reminder of the many challenges faced by the women of the incoming 116th Congress. Many of these leaders, including Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have acknowledged Chisholm as the inspiration for their own groundbreaking campaigns.

Potential Topics

Venus Williams and the fight for equal pay

Claudia Jones and Left Politics

Black Women’s response to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy

Barbara Smith and The Combahee River Collective

Black Women in Sports

Just a couple weeks ago, Nike put out this commercial specifically about how women are looked over in every aspect of the sports world. Now, this commercial covered all women of every ethnicity. However, the only problem I have with this commercial are the moments it emphasized where black women are specifically targeted. For instance, in one of the two scenes, they talk about how just because they’re good, they’re taking something or are on something and it showed a black women running in a track meet, Caster Semenya. It just shows how black women are given specific sports that they have to be dominant in. They never expect black women to be just as great in a sport such as swimming. However, there is still this narrative on Serena Williams about how she ‘attacked’ an official during one of her matches that cost her the victory. A lot of people called her emotional because of her reaction but if it was a guy, this story wouldn’t be as interesting as it is considering she’s a woman. All in all, women are overlooked and it’s about time the world appreciates women and their greatness.


here’s the link to the commercial:

Hughley Shows That Misogyny Still Plagues The Revolution

D.L. Hughley is  a comedian that has been an extremely prominent figure within the national black community. His material typically addressed the current state that black Americans live in the United States. I think it is ironic that someone that speaks often about the “revolution” struggles to respect women, especially black ones. In 2012 D.L. Hughley stated that he has, “never met an angrier group of people” than black women; his said this in an attempt to promote his book. His book was titled, “I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up.” Mr. Hughley obviously needed some help with his perceived image of black women.
This year Hughley is gearing up to release a TV show. When he was asked about his previous comments about black women and whether he truly believes they are angry he responded with feedback that ended in a James Baldwin quote, “to be Black and conscious is to be angry all the time.” He states, “It’s not wrong to be angry, it’s wrong to not know why.” I agree that there are a lot of reasons to be angry as a black American, though his comment does not help black women with their constant battle of sexism in American and black communities. I still am upset that know one has taken the time to teach D.L. Hughley how damaging his words are in the progress of the movement. The battle of sexism within the black community reinforces the stereotypes form in all other non-black american’s minds.

Two black women running for mayor? For some black men, that’s a nightmare

These two women are running the mayor of Chicago. Lori Lightfoot (left) and Toni Preckwinkle (right) the only two probable candidates for mayor. March 3, 2019 an article was published by Sun-Times that discusses how these two women pose a threat to men of the Chicago area.  
The claim was made that, “Black women are successful because white men set them up for success as a more palatable alternative to black men.” I believe that is appeared that Black men in 2019 cannot stomach to see a woman in influential political roles, but they would go so far to claim white people assisted them in this endeavor. The progress of black women is constantly watered by people blaming assistance as the only reasons for their success. Sexism in the black community has historically been a problem. I pains me to see that a city like Chicago could have such problems with Black women progression. This goes to show that no matter the time the past is liable to repeat itself.
These women have a life of accomplishments that prove them worthy of this role, yet black men cannot accept this. The article concludes by saying, “Lightfoot and Preckwinkle have pledged to bring equity and new resources to Chicago’s beleaguered and bereft black communities. By many measures, it’s black men and boys who need them most.”

Audley Moore, Black Women’s Activism, and Nationalist Politics

Keisha Blain

“Audley “Queen Mother” Moore had fond memories of Marcus Garvey, the charismatic Black nationalist leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest and most influential global Black nationalist movement of the twentieth century. Recounting a story in a 1973 interview with the Black Scholar, Moore vividly describes the first time she heard Garvey speak in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920:

We heard that Garvey was coming to New Orleans, but the police would not allow him to speak. Garvey came and they arrested him. The people raised so much sand until they had to let him out the next night.

When local police officials tried to block Garvey from speaking during the second night, Moore describes a tense scene in which she and others pulled out guns in defense of Garvey’s right to speak. She explained it this way: “I had two guns-one in my bosom and one in my pocketbook . . . Everybody was told, and everybody knew they had to come armed. We wanted that freedom.” Standing with a crowd of Black supporters—all with guns in the air—Moore joined the chorus of voices shouting, “Speak, Garvey, speak!”1 Moore’s first encounter with Garvey that evening marked the beginning of her political journey into Black nationalist and radical politics.”

Angela Davis in the News

As you’re watching  Shola Lynch’s Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners, you should think about and consider recent discussions about other black women activists in the black freedom struggle, especially black women involved in leftist politics and the Community Party.

Below are two newspaper sources on Angela Davis from the 1970s:

Los Angeles police Tuesday said weapons similar to that description and belonging to Miss Davis and had been seized in a raid on a Black Panther Headquarters about two months ago.”

“Angela Davis Implicated in San Rafael Shootout” Los Angeles Sentinel, August 13, 1970

“Miss Davis, who had shown little emotion through the 12 weeks of the trial, broke into sobs after the last verdict had been read. ‘This is the happiest day of my life,’ she later exclaimed.”

Earl Caldwell, “Angela Davis Acquitted on All” New York Times, June 5, 1972, 1.




Writing History, Processing Primary Sources

Doing the Research Paper:

The evidentiary basis of a research papers is primary sources. While secondary sources are useful to provide historical context, as well as a sense of what other have written in the past,

historians are writers and primary sources research is the basis of their work. As I have discussed before, primary sources come in different forms, including archival sources (organization, persona, or government), oral histories, magazines, newspapers, poetry, music, and artifacts (clothing, architecture, etc . . . ).

While historians tell stories about the past, they’re using the stories to make an argument about the past. Historiography is useful here, because historians want to know what other historians have written about a given topic. While scholars might write about the same topic, they generally approach the topic differently and usually ask different questions. For example, historian Tiffany Gill likely read Noliwe Rook’s Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture, and African American Women. But after Dr. Gill read existing works, she began to ask a series of questions: did black beauticians play any role in the civil rights movement? If so, what roles? How do we explain the political efficacy of black beauticians?

Historians, like other disciplines, call these questions research questions. But after reading about these books, Dr. Gill began to do research in archives, newspapers, oral histories etc… and once she found relevant sources, she processed them. Processing primary sources includes not only readings and analyzing sources but also thinking about how you might use them in your work.

Throughout the semester, we’ve talked about different facets of this history of black women in the black freedom struggle. Doing, or shall I say, writing history is a different endeavor, but reading about history it can also help you to doing it.

When you are reading and processing primary sources, you’re able to learn about events, people, ideas, etc . . . but you’re also able to, through the act of processing the material, analyze and use that analysis of the sources in an essay or an I.S. to write different or new stories, but also to make an argument about the past.

For example, when we listen to this oral history interview from Dorie Ann Ladner and Joyce Ladner, we get a very different perspective of the March on Washington than Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Know Barbara Smith: One of Our First Proud, Out Black Lesbians

“Know Barbara Smith: One of Our First Proud, Out Black Lesbians” by Janet Mock

Like many feminists, I met Barbara Smith on the page. I read the “Combahee River Collective Statement,” which she co-authored, in a women’s studies course. I did not take note of her name. I was not compelled to research her beyond the merits of the collective, a group of Black feminists and lesbians who gathered and organized in Boston in 1974. She did not call attention to herself; instead, she did the work, as part of a team. Her work speaks to that mission: to bring her sisters to the page and the work, by creating platforms, documents, and publications that would remain long after they had gone.

In her 72 years, Barbara not only cofounded the Combahee River Collective, she helped build a visible Black feminist movement during a period when one did not exist. “Virtually everything I have done has been in service of that mission,” Barbara says, from teaching one of the first courses on Black women writers in the United States in 1973, to building the field of Black women’s studies by asserting that there was and could be such a thing, and cofounding Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1980, the first United States publisher for all women of color to reach a large national audience, which published the second edition of the beloved and groundbreaking anthology This Bridge Called My Back. “Arguably, the history of Black women’s organizing would be very different if none of these interventions had occurred,” she tells me.

As we continue to dissect the differences between the Black Struggle and the Black Movement, we see that Movements such as the Civil Rights more as a reaction to one of the many struggles faced by African-Americans. People often associated all Black struggles with the Civil Rights Movement, however we still see the fight for equal Black representation continue today.


I was doing some research on Black History month when I came across this online article written on prominent Black Women. I found the article interesting and relating to this class for two reasons. One, the numerous Black Women introduced in the article serves to show the various barriers Black Women have broken, in all their respective fields. Secondly, the article does a good job of shining light on unsung Black heroes. As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we must continue to realize the Black Struggle extends beyond the Civil Rights and give recognition to Black Women who have undoubtedly played their role in fighting the Black Struggles