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Black Women Organizing from the Heart: Outrageous, Audacious and Willful

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

At the core of Black women’s commitment to justice is a strategy of organizing from the heart. Organizing from the heart, for Black women means organizing out of lived experiences of interlocking forms of oppression such as race, class, gender, and poverty. Alice Walker’s definition of “womanist” describes the audacity of Black women to believe that they can create and lead movements to transform power inequities, challenge systemic racism and white supremacy, and create long-term systemic change. This presentation will include examples of Black female leaders responding to the COVID-19 public health crisis by taking enormous risks such as calling in the philanthropic community to decolonize its funding practices, diverting their organizational resources to house, clothe, and feed community members, and galvanizing the political will of constituents during the presidential, congressional, and senatorial elections. I will include the works of Angela Davis, Octavia Butler, Pamela Lightsey, Toni Cade Bambara, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Asha Bandele. Finally, I will compare and contrast aspects of Alice Walker’s definition, namely “outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior” to my womanist ethic of reproductive justice and sexual justice.

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