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The hidden history of black nationalist women’s political activism | The Conversation

The hidden history of black nationalist women’s political activism | The Conversation Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the historical contributions of black people in the United States. Too often, however, this history focuses on black men, sidelining black women and diminishing their contributions.

Black Nationalism, African American History, Black History, Marcus Garvey, Amy Ashwood, Amy Jacques, Mittie Maude Lena Gordon, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN



This is true in mainstream narratives of black nationalist movements in the United States. These narratives almost always highlight the experiences of a handful of black nationalist men, including Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan.

Contrary to popular conceptions, women were also instrumental to the spread and articulation of black nationalism – the political view that people of African descent constitute a separate group on the basis of their distinct culture, shared history and experiences.

As I demonstrate in my new book, “Set the World on Fire,” black nationalist movements would have all but disappeared were it not for women. What’s more, these women laid the groundwork for the generation of black activists who came of age during the civil rights-black power era. In the 1960s, many black activists – including Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael – drew on these women’s ideas and political strategies.


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