Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Black Women at the Forefront in Fight for Racial Equality

Bree Newsome snatched down a Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse. Ieshia Evans calmly faced down officers in riot gear at a Baton Rouge march.

Widely published photographs of these and other black women offer some of the most arresting images to emerge from the protest movement of recent years.

"We as feminists of color ... have been involved in building these movements over the decades, but we have never been acknowledged as leaders," said Barbara Smith, co-founder of the Combahee River Collective, an early and influential black feminist group.

Unlike many of their predecessors from previous decades, this generation of black women is "demanding that they be respected. They can assert that publicly and have impact and visibility, because of all the movement work that has come before," Smith said.

Newsome scaled a flagpole in 2015 to tear down the Confederate banner in the aftermath of the attack at a Charleston church where a white supremacist shot nine worshippers to death during a Bible study. Evans acted last summer after the police killings of two black men — Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Images of both women become powerful emblems of protest and unrest. 

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