Mar 07

Radical Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective


Activists like Ella Baker and groups like the Combahee River Collective pioneered intersectionality by combining antiracist and women’s liberation movements. Join this conversation with Barbara Smith, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Barbara Ransby, as they elevate the voices of path-breaking radical Black feminists (Note that due to last-minute circumstances, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor was unable to attend the conversation).


  • Barbara Ransby

    University of Illinois, Chicago

    Barbara Ransby is an historian, writer, and longtime political activist. She is Professor of History, Gender and Women's Studies, and African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ransby has published dozens of articles and essays in popular and scholarly venues. She is most notably the author of an award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker, entitled Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision.

    She is also the author of Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson, and most recently Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century. She serves on the editorial boards of The Black Commentator (an online journal); the London-based journal, Race and Class; the Justice, Power and Politics Series at University of North Carolina Press; and the Scholar’s Advisory Committee of Ms. magazine. In the summer of 2012 she became the second Editor-in-Chief of SOULS, a critical journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society published quarterly.

    Professor Ransby received a BA in History from Columbia University and an MA and PhD in History from the University of Michigan.

  • Barbara Smith

    Author, Editor, Activist, Teacher

    Beginning in the 1970s, Barbara Smith broke new ground as a black feminist, lesbian, activist, author, and book publisher of women of color. Smith co-founded the Combahee River Collective in 1974. This document was one of the earliest explorations of the intersection of multiple oppressions, including racism and heterosexism, critiquing both sexual oppression in the black community and racism within the wider feminist movement. She co-founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1980, the first U.S. publisher of books for women of color. Smith taught classes on black women’s literature and has been visiting professor, writer in residence, freelance writer, and lecturer at numerous universities and research institutions, including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (1995-1996). She is the author of numerous books and continues to lecture widely.

  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    Princeton University

    Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes and speaks on Black politics, social movements, and racial inequality in the United States. She is the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, which won the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book in 2016. She is also the editor of How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, which won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ nonfiction in 2018. Her third book, Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s, is forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press.

    Taylor is a widely sought public speaker and writer. In 2016, she was named one that one hundred most influential African Americans in the United States by The Root. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Boston Review, Paris Review, Guardian, The Nation, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, Jacobin, and beyond.

    Taylor received her PhD in African American Studies at Northwestern University in 2013. She is assistant professor in the department of African American Studies at Princeton University.



comments powered by Disqus