Revolutionary Women, Revolutionary Worlds: Black Women and New Directions in Black Power History

AHA Session 8
Thursday, January 5, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Centennial Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor)
Rhonda Y. Williams, Case Western Reserve University
Ashley Farmer, Boston University

Session Abstract

Historians have now begun to appreciate the rich layers of the Black Power movement and examine how Black Power ideals have shaped historical and popular understandings of activism. Lingering questions remain about how African Americans' myriad calls for “Black Power” and self-determination coalesced into a national and international movement. This panel will address these important questions by centering African American women’s Black Power activism. In particular, the panel will focus on African American women's multi-layered conceptions of revolution and revolutionary identity. Beginning at the level of the individual, the panelists will discuss how African American women exhibited their Black Power politics by adorning their dorm rooms with revolutionary images. Then linking the individual and organizational, they will show how women in organizations such as the Black Panther Party adopted a revolutionary identity to advance the group's goals. They will conclude by discussing how African American women connected the Black Power, anti-war, and black feminist movements through revolutionary rhetoric and principles. Collectively these presentations illustrate how African American women’s understandings of Black Power and revolution created crucial linkages between activists, across organizations and campuses, and among social movements. The panelist will also show how different levels of historical analysis can produce new and generative directions for the study of American history, social movement history, Black Power studies, and African American women’s history. Finally, the panelists will offer commentary on the meaning of revolution in the Black Power era, and its connection with the different layers of contemporary social movements for racial and gender justice.
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