This paper embraces the concept of “coalition” as central to second-wave feminism, particularly in places such as the South. Although many activists in the late 1960s and 1970s used the language of “sisterhood,” they generally failed to create the truly empathic and reciprocal relationship that sisterhood implied. Coalition-building, on the other hand, explains how diverse groups of women were able to construct a larger movement. While generally retaining their individual identities and goals, coalition members joined together for varying lengths of time with varying degrees of solidarity. Coalition work was never easy. As Bernice Reagon stated, “You don’t go into coalition because you just like it.” Many feminist coalitions were fractious and/or temporary. But coalitions could make individual groups stronger and help protect minority interests.
Across the South, feminist activists of different races and classes rarely mobilized within the same organizations, but they often built coalitions that sought to bridge – if only temporarily – social, political, or economic divisions. Even if women only occasionally organized in the same groups across lines of race and class, they often articulated similar grievances and sometimes advocated similar solutions.
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