Black Women and Student Activism and the College of Wooster

This post is partly inspired by recent student activism at the College of Wooster, represented collectively by the Galpin Call-in, as well more recently students, especially students of color’s concerns about campus climate and diversity within the student body and faculty. As some of you might remember, there was also student protest (supported by faculty and staff) when a trustee made some problematic comments during fall 2016 and the accompanying letter from faculty of color. It’s also inspired by Madelyn’s post about the importance of strategizing and organizing. We’ve discussed a lot of this in class, though mainly about the past and not at the College of Wooster.

Of course, many of you know about the Galpin Call-in, and may have participated in it. But you should also know that black students , especially black women are responsible for the MLK Day celebration, which the College inaugurated in January 2014.

In the past, Susan Lee (a black alum), then an assistant dean (I might be wrong her title)/dean of multiculturalism, and co-director of what was then called the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, held a MLK Celebration at the College that spanned the entire week.

Lee’s MLK events were often under attended and the same people, such as myself, other faculty of color and allies, supported it. The College, though it paid for it, did not support it the way it does now.  A major difference is canceling of classes, formally inviting the College and surrounding community to participate, and holding these events, etc . . . the day.  The point here is, while cancelling class for a week is untenable, that the College cancels classes for a full day now is demonstrative of the College’s full support.

Certainly, black faculty, staff, and allies among faculty and staff played a role in the establishment of this tradition at the College. But arguably, it would not have happened if several black women, such as Deja Moss, President of the BSA, (and maybe a couple of black men) did come to a faculty meeting in fall 2013 and eloquently explain why having a MLK Day, cancelling class, etc . . . was important not only to them but also the College of Wooster. This set the stage for faculty and others to carry their voices across in the faculty meeting once they left.  Put another way, they strategized, organized, and coordinated with faculty and staff, but ultimately, it was their work and voices that pulled it off.


Workshop II

Workshop II

Andrew Aldridge, “Killing Me Softly: An Observation of Hip Hop from a Feminist Lens”

This paper examines various ways women of color have fought against their portrayal in the male dominated hip hop culture, particularly their roles as music video dancers, models, and seuxalized objects. While my essay navigates questions of trying to combine feminism and hip hop, it is mainly concerned with how viewing hip-hop from a feminist perspective might enhance conversations surrounding race, class, gender, and sexuality. By examining the dichotomy between conscious and commercial rap, observing various approaches to combating sexism within the genre from Queen Latifah, Sistah Souljah, Eve, and Lauryn Hill, whose approaches differed from other artists like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, who mainly embodied tropes of black female hypersexuality,as well as considering the work of scholars and poets, this essay aims to add to the dialogue about the intersection of women, rap, and hip-hop feminism.

Abby Blinka, “Revolutionary Litigation: Black Women’s Work as Cause Lawyers in the Black Freedom Struggle”

My proposed final paper is on black women’s expansion of roles in the black freedom struggle, beyond the work of activists, protest organizers, and intellectuals. Specifically, this paper will emphasize black women lawyers in the twentieth century who worked against racism and sexism through litigation. This expansion of roles included women such as Constance Baker Motley, Pauli Murray, and Kimberlé Crenshaw who all had different goals and varying approaches but are were all based in legal processes. By emphasizing the legal process, that is how​the law is made rather than simply the law itself, this paper will focus on the history of black women as agents of legislative change while navigating politics of race, gender, and class.

Madelyn Cobb, “Capitalism v. Communism”

Why haven’t more radical, progressive movements lasted? In this paper I will be researching radical, progressive movements ran by black female communists and their attempts for equality and attempting to answer why these movements were not publicized, are not largely remembered today, and why they did not work.

A’Janay Nicholson, “The exclusion of Women from the Million Man March”

Black men and women have been facing social, economic, and political issues since being brought to America. If they both are receiving unjust treatment from the world then how is it that Black women were excluded from the Million Man March on October 16, 1965? The Million Man March was organized to get Black issues back on the nation’s political agenda and shed light upon issues affecting the Black community. Issues like unemployment rates, poverty rates, unjust treatment from law enforcement, and prenatal care for Black women and kids because inner city hospitals were closing. Even though Women were told to stay home, they served as the backbone of the march. There were some influential women that spoke at the march and played a big role behind the scenes such as Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, National Council of Negro President Dr. Betty Shabazz, Tynnetta Muhammad, E. Faye Williams and many more. You also had other influential Black women such as Angela Davis, who opposed the march because she thought justice cannot be served by countering a distorted and racist view of black manhood with a narrowly sexist vision of men standing “a degree above women.” Dr. Julianne Malveaux also publicly questioned why women were not invited. Looking at different primary and secondary sources helped discover different and new perspectives and interpretations about the Million Man March and the exclusion of Women. Coming into this research paper I assumed that Black women faced the same factors as men during this time. However, after analyzing articles, essays, speeches, and movies, I discovered that Black women face the same and maybe even more prejudices than their male counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see a group of Black males united, hugging, and treating their neighbor like their brother, but we can’t forget about the women who were going through similar and in some cases worse experiences than the Black men.

Juwan Shabazz, “Black Nationalism: An Analysis of Ula Taylor’s Work and The Contributions Made by Women of Color”

My essay will be split into three subsections where I will focus on analyzing two books written by Ula Y. Taylor: The Veiled Garvey and The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam. The goal of my paper will be centered towards answering larger questions around what black nationalism is, and how black women have played a role in its formation. Through using the books written by Ula Taylor, I will center the scope of my paper on the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League) and the Nation of Islam, and how black women have contributed to each movement respectfully. While Ula Taylor’s work will be incredibly important to my paper, I will also use several other pieces of work to help expand upon her ideas. In particular, I will use articles written by Karen Adler and Keisha Blain that help to further expand upon Taylor’s research while also providing a broader depth of scholarship on the topic at large.