Celebrating Black Women’s Resistance on Juneteenth - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Celebrating Black Women’s Resistance on Juneteenth

On the 154th anniversary of Juneteenth, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold the first hearing on the topic of reparations for slavery since 2007. The hearing, which is the second in history, will focus in part on H.R. 40. H.R. 40, a piece of legislation that would employ a commission to study the legacy of slavery and consider reparations proposals.[1] While the fight for reparations gained prominence in recent years, the issue has been waged for centuries, championed by Black women.[2] However, media surrounding the upcoming hearing largely erases this history and centers the famous Black men (Danny Glover and Ta-Nehisi Coates who will give testimony. While they have contributed significant efforts to the cause, the centering of these men speaks to the long-standing tradition of erasing Black women’s work from the historical narrative.

Black women have been at the forefront of resistance movements throughout history, yet are seldom recognized or granted the historical memory they deserve – the fight for reparations is one such example.

Juneteenth celebrates an emancipation that would not have been possible without Black women’s fight for abolition. At this time, narratives served as powerful political instruments. Black women utilized this medium to subvert the prevailing narrative evidenced by works such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself (1861) and The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave Related by Herself (1831).[3] Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents transformed the conversation around slavery at the time, providing a powerful testimony to the pervasive role of sexual violence, garnering support for the abolitionist movement like never before.

The incorporation of demands for reparations into Black politics would not have been possible without the work of women such as Audley (“Queen Mother”) Moore. With her 1963 work, Why Reparations?, Moore offers one of the most extensive analyses on reparations, providing legal basis and reimaging what reparations could look like.[4] In her career which spanned eight decades, Moore traveled across the country organizing and encouraging groups such as the Black Panther Party to include reparations into their platforms. Moore was a critical member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), which has supported and worked alongside legislators to pass H.R. 40 since it was first introduced in 1989.[5][6] Thirty years later, as the House moves closer to this goal today, Moore’s decades-long work in pioneering the call for reparations must not be forgotten.

The fundamental role that Black women like Moore played in resistance movements is evident throughout history – past and present. Other examples are efforts post-emancipation, as systems of injustice and widespread racial violence terrorized Black communities. Ida B. Wells developed profound research and campaigns on the subject of lynching, radically challenging prevailing narratives. Arguing that lynching was a state-sanctioned tool that used criminality to justify the violence against Black people, she developed some of the most fundamental theory of the modern criminal justice movement.[7]

This Juneteenth, we celebrate and uplift the voices of Black women, who have pioneered the fight for freedom that we see today. History will remember their stories.

Join Advancement Project National Office in highlighting the work of these women and envisioning the future they’ll lead with the second event of our 2045 Project series, The Revolution = Black Women + Girls, July 16 in Washington, D.C. Register today!

___

Mirielle Wright is an undergraduate student at Harvard University studying African-American Studies and Government. She is currently working as a Communications Intern at Advancement Project.

[1] Tovin Lapan, “House Hearing on Slavery Reparations Scheduled for Juneteenth,” Fortune, 18 June 2019, http://fortune.com/2019/06/18/slavery-reparations-hearing-juneteenth/.

[2] Ana Lucia Araujo, “The History of Black Women Championing Demands for Reparations,” Truthout, 1 June 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/the-history-of-black-women-championing-demands-for-reparations/.

[3] Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, 1993), 129.

[4] Ashley Farmer, “Somebody Has to Pay: Audley Moore, Mother of the Reparations Movement,” Black Perspectives, 17 June 2015, https://www.aaihs.org/somebody-has-to-pay-audley-moore-mother-of-the-reparations-movement/.

[5] Ashley Farmer, “Audley Moore and the Modern Reparations Movement,” Black Perspectives, 28 February 2019,  https://www.aaihs.org/audley-moore-and-the-modern-reparations-movement/.

[6] “Legislation Strategies Commission,” http://ncobra.org/commissions/Legislation.html.

[7]Keisha N. Blain, “Ida B. Wells offered the solution to police violence more than 100 years ago,” Washington Post, 11 July 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/07/11/ida-b-wells-offered-the-solution-to-police-violence-more-than-100-years-ago/?utm_term=.3de2c8437c63.

On the 154th anniversary of Juneteenth, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold the first hearing on the topic of reparations for slavery since 2007. The hearing, which is the second in history, will focus in part on H.R. 40. H.R. 40, a piece of legislation that would employ a commission to study the legacy of slavery and consider reparations proposals.[1] While the fight for reparations gained prominence in recent years, the issue has been waged for centuries, championed by Black women.[2] However, media surrounding the upcoming hearing largely erases this history and centers the famous Black men (Danny Glover and Ta-Nehisi Coates who will give testimony. While they have contributed significant efforts to the cause, the centering of these men speaks to the long-standing tradition of erasing Black women’s work from the historical narrative.

Black women have been at the forefront of resistance movements throughout history, yet are seldom recognized or granted the historical memory they deserve – the fight for reparations is one such example.

Juneteenth celebrates an emancipation that would not have been possible without Black women’s fight for abolition. At this time, narratives served as powerful political instruments. Black women utilized this medium to subvert the prevailing narrative evidenced by works such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself (1861) and The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave Related by Herself (1831).[3] Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents transformed the conversation around slavery at the time, providing a powerful testimony to the pervasive role of sexual violence, garnering support for the abolitionist movement like never before.

The incorporation of demands for reparations into Black politics would not have been possible without the work of women such as Audley (“Queen Mother”) Moore. With her 1963 work, Why Reparations?, Moore offers one of the most extensive analyses on reparations, providing legal basis and reimaging what reparations could look like.[4] In her career which spanned eight decades, Moore traveled across the country organizing and encouraging groups such as the Black Panther Party to include reparations into their platforms. Moore was a critical member of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), which has supported and worked alongside legislators to pass H.R. 40 since it was first introduced in 1989.[5][6] Thirty years later, as the House moves closer to this goal today, Moore’s decades-long work in pioneering the call for reparations must not be forgotten.

The fundamental role that Black women like Moore played in resistance movements is evident throughout history – past and present. Other examples are efforts post-emancipation, as systems of injustice and widespread racial violence terrorized Black communities. Ida B. Wells developed profound research and campaigns on the subject of lynching, radically challenging prevailing narratives. Arguing that lynching was a state-sanctioned tool that used criminality to justify the violence against Black people, she developed some of the most fundamental theory of the modern criminal justice movement.[7]

This Juneteenth, we celebrate and uplift the voices of Black women, who have pioneered the fight for freedom that we see today. History will remember their stories.

Join Advancement Project National Office in highlighting the work of these women and envisioning the future they’ll lead with the second event of our 2045 Project series, The Revolution = Black Women + Girls, July 16 in Washington, D.C. Register today!

___

Mirielle Wright is an undergraduate student at Harvard University studying African-American Studies and Government. She is currently working as a Communications Intern at Advancement Project.

[1] Tovin Lapan, “House Hearing on Slavery Reparations Scheduled for Juneteenth,” Fortune, 18 June 2019, http://fortune.com/2019/06/18/slavery-reparations-hearing-juneteenth/.

[2] Ana Lucia Araujo, “The History of Black Women Championing Demands for Reparations,” Truthout, 1 June 2019, https://truthout.org/articles/the-history-of-black-women-championing-demands-for-reparations/.

[3] Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, 1993), 129.

[4] Ashley Farmer, “Somebody Has to Pay: Audley Moore, Mother of the Reparations Movement,” Black Perspectives, 17 June 2015, https://www.aaihs.org/somebody-has-to-pay-audley-moore-mother-of-the-reparations-movement/.

[5] Ashley Farmer, “Audley Moore and the Modern Reparations Movement,” Black Perspectives, 28 February 2019,  https://www.aaihs.org/audley-moore-and-the-modern-reparations-movement/.

[6] “Legislation Strategies Commission,” http://ncobra.org/commissions/Legislation.html.

[7]Keisha N. Blain, “Ida B. Wells offered the solution to police violence more than 100 years ago,” Washington Post, 11 July 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/07/11/ida-b-wells-offered-the-solution-to-police-violence-more-than-100-years-ago/?utm_term=.3de2c8437c63.

KEEP READING

Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons: “We Can’t Reform This System”

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Advancement Project National Office reflects on how to build a #FreeandSafe society for all people of color.

Read More
The Best Mother’s Day Gift is Freedom

By Ashley Carter, Justice Project Program Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney Photo credit: Cyndi Elledge // Photos are a part of the #FreeBlackWomxn series. Visit www.freeblackwomxn.org. Thousands of women with children across the United States will spend this Mother’s Day behind bars. The crisis of mass incarceration has fueled a family separation endemic: more than 150,000 children have a parent who is in jail simply because they are too poor to afford their court-imposed cash bail. This year we are working to support the 2021 Black Mama’s Day Bailout organized and led by our community partners…

Read More
Black Mama Bailout: #FreeBlackWomxn

Michigan Liberation and the Advancement Project National Office have launched the #FreeBlackWomxn campaign, a photo and storytelling project that elevates the voices of Black Michigan mothers who have experienced incarceration. We are honored that Kimberly, Machelle, Geneva, Darnita, Dominica, Irene, and Tamika shared their stories with us. Click each woman’s photo below to read their experience with incarceration.

Read More
Photo of the back of a police officer
More Cop Convictions Won’t Stop Racist Police Violence

By Thomas B. Harvey, Justice Project Program Director Last week, as people across America waited for a verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial, police in Ohio murdered a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. As Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ma’Khia Bryant lay dead in the street in Columbus. Credit: Fred Moon While we should hope that Chauvin’s conviction brings some peace and healing to George Floyd’s family, friends, and the broader Minneapolis community, Ma’Khia’s murder reinforced a disturbing reality: individual convictions are irrelevant to the movement to end police violence. Cops will continue to…

Read More
Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Applaud Chauvin Verdict: Accountability in the Courtroom One Step in Journey to Justice

This verdict, while unexpected in light of far too many past cases like this, does not bring George Floyd back.

Read More
Advancement Project Welcomes Chauvin Verdict, Implores America to Move Beyond Policing

Today, in response to the conviction of Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter...

Read More
Advancement Project Statement on Murder of Adam Toledo

Today, we join Chicago in grief and outrage at the murder of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino boy whose life was cruelly taken by Chicago Police. We express our deepest sympathy to Adam’s friends and family; we stand in solidarity with organizers, activists, and the broader Chicago community as they take to the street to express their despair and demand justice.

Read More
Mapping Injustice: Navigating the Criminal Legal System 101

Grassroots organizers are leading the fight to dismantle the incarceration state. In its current form, the criminal legal system criminalizes and incarcerates people of color in the name of “law and order.” In 2021, Advancement Project National Office, along with Michigan Liberation, Close the Workhouse, Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit, Detroit Justice Center, and East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition (EBRPPRC), partnered to present a forum series on the various phases of a criminal case: Policing, Arrest, and Pretrial Trial, Sentencing, and Plea Negotiations Incarceration and Re-Entry During each session, organizers and lawyers mapped the…

Read More
Advancement Project Statement on Daunte Wright’s Murder, Police Claims of Accidental Discharge

“We are heartbroken and outraged at the murder of Daunte Wright. We stand in solidarity with Daunte’s family and the Black and Brown Minnesotans who are sharing their grief, outrage, and disgust after police have taken the life of another Black man in their state.

Read More
Civil Rights, Racial Justice Organizations Applaud Biden’s Executive Order Aimed at Facilitating Voter Registration, Urges Robust Implementation and Tracking

Media Contact: Elana Needle Email: [email protected] The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative—the foremost diverse coalition of national racial justice and civil rights organizations representing and serving more than 53 million people in the United States—applauds President Joseph R. Biden’s recent executive action to make it easier for Americans to register to vote. Signed on the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the new Biden executive order requiring federal agencies to submit plans to help facilitate voter registration invokes the legacy of the 600 activists, including the late Congressman John Lewis, who were attacked by law enforcement as they attempted to…

Read More