National Black Feminist Organization

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The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) was founded in 1973. The group worked to address the unique issues affecting black women in America.[1] Founding members included Michele Wallace, Faith Ringgold, Doris Wright and Margaret Sloan-Hunter. They borrowed the office of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women. According to Wallace, a contributing author to the anthology All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies, Wright "called (the first) meeting to discuss Black women and their relationship to the Feminist Movement."[2][2]

History[edit]

One of two earliest organizations formed in the Black feminist movement, the National Black Feminist Organization clearly reflected the goals put forth in the Combahee River Collective Statement, which was being developed at around the same time by some of the same women.[3][1]

Members of the NBFO were culled from the civil rights/Black Power movement and the feminist movement.[citation needed] Many of the members did not feel completely accepted in either camp.[4] They felt that the white women who dominated the feminist movement had internalized racist, white supremacist beliefs and that many were guilty of overt racial discrimination. The women active in the civil rights movement fared no better; their leadership was frequently ignored, downplayed, or challenged. They were also expected to subordinate themselves to the men in the movement and were frequently relegated to menial tasks.[5] Lesbians had to deal with the homophobia or Lesbophobia prevalent in both movements. Brenda Eichelberger, one of the founding members of the Chicago chapter said this in an undated interview, "...I didn't know any other black woman felt the way that I did about feminism. I knew white women who were my friends, but they didn't have the added oppression of race. A lot of black groups were macho. I couldn't completely identify with any group. Anyway, all I need to know was that one woman anywhere who felt like I did..."[3]

The NBFO focused its energies on the interconnectedness of many prejudices that faced African-American women: racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and Lesbophobia. The women elected Margaret Sloan-Hunter, one of the early editors of Ms. Magazine and an associate of Gloria Steinem, as their chair. They then established chapters in several U.S. cities including Chicago and New York.[citation needed]

The group stopped operating on a national level in 1977 and is now defunct.[6] In her Feminist history, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975, cultural critic Alice Echols quotes E. Frances White's essay Listening to the Voices of Black Feminism, "Some attribute the National Black Feminist Organization's demise to its inability to reach any workable consensus around what constituted a Black feminist politic."[7]

The NBFO's 1973 statement of purpose

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilma Pearl Mankiller. The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Houghton Mifflin Books, 1998 ISBN 0-618-00182-4, p203
  2. ^ Hull, Scott, Smith. All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies, The Feminist Press, 2003, ISBN 0-912670-95-9, p12
  3. ^ But Some of Us Are Brave: A History of Black Feminism in the United States; interview with Robbie McCauley by Alex Schwall. 2004
  4. ^ The National Black Feminist Organization’s Statement of Purpose, 1973 quote: "Black women have suffered cruelly in this society from living the phenomenon of being black and female, in a country that is both racist and sexist."[1]
  5. ^ The National Black Feminist Organization’s Statement of Purpose, 1973 The NBFO's 1973 statement of purpose
  6. ^ But Some of Us Are Brave: A History of Black Feminism in the United States; interview with Robbie McCauley by Alex Schwall. 2004
  7. ^ White, E. Frances. Listening to the Voices of Black Feminism, in Radical America, vol18, 3, p2, quoted in Alice Echols, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975, p292