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

The Mothers and Daughter’s of the Movement

In honor of Women’s History Month, Out dedicates its March issue to women and nonbinary femmes. For the first time in our 27 years of publishing, our entire magazine only features and is photographed by, styled by, and written by women and nonbinary femmes. Joining us as guest editor for this edition is the activist, author, and director Janet Mock.

In partnership with Out’s executive editor Raquel Willis, our cover story features Mickalene Thomas’ photographs of the Mothers and Daughters of the Movement: five Black queer and trans women carrying our liberation forward, each of them representative of vital work around race, sexuality, gender, class, and beyond. For the occasion, Mock selected our “Mothers,” Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who rose up at Stonewall and is still fighting, and Barbara Smith, legendary Black lesbian feminist from the ‘60s to today. Joining them are our Daughters — Tourmaline, the artist best known for immortalizing and honoring the icon Marsha P. Johnson; Alicia Garza, the queer woman who coined the term Black Lives Matter; and Charlene Carruthers, who’s literally writing the book on modern, intersectional queer feminism.

To be a Black American Muslim Woman Is to be Both an Insider and an Outsider

Recently I read an article from the Root titled “To be a Black American Muslim Woman Is to be Both an Insider and an Outsider”. In the piece, the author mainly discusses what it is like living as both a black woman and a Muslim in the United states. What stood out to me the most about this article is the idea of never being American enough. In my opinion, America proliferates this notion of superiority when it comes to anything that doesn’t revolve around themselves. This can be seen in religion when someone professes to be anything other than Christian, or even in socio economic cases where minorities are historically disadvantaged.

Given my own personal experiences, and the long-term distain of Islam that America has projected for years, I felt a strong connection to some of the emotions that the author described. One of the strongest feelings I related too was the feeling of tiredness, which was clearly expressed by the author when she said “in short y’all, I can’t win. I can’t break even, and I can’t get outta the game.” I personally feel that the amount of time and energy that is spent rejecting other religions, races, or ways of life are wasted efforts that are entirely due to a lack of knowledge. If more people spent time studying those who they see as “different,” I truly believe that equality could be reached. However, I know that this solution is a long shot and most likely would not happen during my lifetime. Nevertheless, I found the piece to be very interesting, and it can be found through the following link:


Beloved by Toni Morrison

           Beloved is a book about the lengths a mother will go to to protect her children. The book takes place after the civil war. It follows a woman named Sethe in her incredibly dangerous struggle for freedom. The book is largely inspired by the chilling story of a former African American slave, Margret Gardner, who fled to Ohio from enslavement in Kentucky.

When discussing the topics of black women and their crucial involvement  in the Black Freedom Struggle and their maternal connections that come along with it, I can’t help but always think of Margaret Garner as a prime example of that. The book Beloved follows its own storyline to make readers critical think about and questions heavy topics such as infanticide. The book does an amazing job of detailing what freedom looked like for Sethe and the constraints she faced even after her escape to “freedom.”

The true story of Margaret Garner in brief is about a slave who ran away with all four of her children on one of the coldest nights recorded in Kentucky history.  As a result of the weather, their plan for escape failed. As the slave catchers and Mr Garner had a shootout, it became clear to Margaret that they were going to be returned, so Margaret grabbed a  knife and killed her two year old daughter.


Read the case here 



Kamala Harris Article

I recently read an article from the New York Times titled “Kamala Harris is Accused of Lying about Listening to Tupac” In the article, it is mentioned that while Harris was discussing marijuana legalization, she mentioned smoking marijuana in college and listening to Tupac. However, many members of the media were quick to point out that this could not have been true because he had not released an album yet when she was still in school. Fox News criticized her for this and other media outlets felt that she was making it up in order to appeal to voters.

I feel that the media should not waste their time focusing on this. Even if she did misremember what kind of music and which artists she listened to in college, the media choosing to focus on this instead of her views on issues is a problem. A presidential candidates music choices or other things like that should not matter when people are evaluating her candidacy for president. People look at many different media outlets to get their information and the media choosing to focus on things that do not even matter will not help voters make a decision on who to vote for, especially when the current president has said many controversial things that do not get much media attention.

The media needs to take their role in shaping public opinion seriously and focus on important issues instead of stories like this.

-Brian Lief


Mo’Nique and Steve Harvey’s Conversation on Telling the Truth in Hollywood

Mo’Nique and Steve Harvey sat down and had a discussion on his talk show about her treatment in Hollywood, but specifically Netflix’s offer of $500,00 for a comedy special. Mo’Nique was being offered significantly less than white female comedians like Amy Schumer and black male comedians like Chris Rock. Because of this, Mo’Nique called out Netflix and called for a boycott of Netflix as well. This discussion between the two was prompted because Steve Harvey did not approve of how she handled the situation. During the discussion, Mo’Nique explains that she was hurt by the fact that many black celebrities had reached out to her privately to support her, but were silent when she got backlash. Steve Harvey ended up explaining that he did not like how she handled that situation because speaking out on the truth in Hollywood costs money and he believed that she should have thought about that before speaking out. Mo’Nique ultimately said that integrity was more important than getting a check and Steve Harvey responded in saying that there were other ways to ‘win the war’ and fight for the cause without having to give up your check…

I find what Steve Harvey said incredibly frustrating because you rarely hear about backlash from members of the black community when black men stand up for inequality against themselves. But the moment when a black woman recognizes her worth, sees that she is not being paid what she deserves and speaks out against it and calls for action, she is handling the situation wrong. Steve Harvey’s comment saying she could have handled the situation differently makes me feel like he would rather her be quiet about the inequalities within Hollywood regarding black women. Black women rarely, if ever, tell black men to be quiet or not stand up or be vocal about inequalities they face and stand right beside them fighting for their cause, but it is so difficult to get that same support and solidarity from black men regarding black women inequalities. Black women are supposed to just take the inequalities and suffer in silence while still being expected to fight for their rights. It is also shameful that Steve Harvey cares more about obtaining more and more money rather than speak out against injustices. Steve Harvey earns more and more each year and as of 2017 had a net worth of $140 million. So he is telling us that he could not afford to speak out because he needs to be getting paid? That is ridiculous in my opinion. Almost as ridiculous as P Diddy saying “It is bigger than being billionaires, it’s about owning our culture and leading the revolution.” How can you honestly say that you, as a billionaire, are about a lead the revolution? The revolution must involve destroying our capitalist society which means that billionaires will lose their wealth and distribute it amongst the poor. There is no way to ‘lead the revolution’ without doing that.

It’s difficult seeing black Americans like Jay-Z and P Diddy being billionaires and wanting to achieve that same status through wealth while also knowing that our capitalist system in America was built on the backs of African slaves.  Mo’Nique choosing to use her platform to stand up for inequalities is a step in the right direction. Not holding back to continue receiving the paycheck from the white man is great. But at the same time black celebrities need to realize that the revolution will involve destroying capitalism which will negatively impact them in the short term, but create life better for everyone in the long run. Should we try to be like Jay-Z and P Diddy and fight our way to the top of a inherently racist system or destroy it and create a new one that makes life better for all?