Sojourners for Truth and Justice

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Sojourners for Truth and Justice was a radical protest organization led by African American women from 1951 to 1952.

Origins[edit]

In 1951, a group of 14 African American women leaders issued "a call to Negro women to convene in Washington, D.C. for a Sojourn for Truth and Justice" to protest government attacks on sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author and editor W. E. B. Du Bois.[1] In less than two weeks, more than 132 women from 14 states responded to the call.[1]

Activism[edit]

Invoking the tradition of radical black women like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, Sojourners for Truth and Justice mobilized "black women against Jim Crow and U.S. Cold War domestic and foreign policy".[2] The only group on the Communist Left led by African-American women, Sojourners for Truth and Justice's members included newspaper editor Charlotta Bass, Angie Dickerson and Shirley Graham Du Bois, activist Dorothy Hunton, Louise Thompson Patterson, the young poet and actor Beulah Richardson, and writer Eslanda Goode Robeson.

In addition to their defense of prominent Black Left intellectuals and activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Claudia Jones, Sojourners for Truth and Justice organized to free Rosa Lee Ingram, the widowed mother of 12 who was sentenced to death for shooting a white man who had attempted to rape her.[3] They also organized in support of W. Alpheaus Hunton, executive director of the Council on African Affairs (CAA) and editor of the CAA's publication, New Africa, who had been imprisoned for his affiliations with the Communist Left.[4] and Paul Robeson whose passport had been confiscated by the Justice Department in 1950.[2]

Sojourners for Truth and Justice existed for a year and helped to articulate a Black Left Feminism that, in historian Erik S. Duffie's words, "paid special attention to the intersectional, systemic nature of African-American women’s oppression and understood their struggle for dignity and freedom in global terms."[2] In the repressive climate of the Cold War, Sojourners for Truth and Justice envisioned a political movement that understood race, gender, and class as being central to struggles for equality and justice, in biographer Carole Boyce Davies' words, "extending far beyond the narrow gendered formulations that appeared later in the mainstream feminist movement."[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Davies, Carol Boyce (2008). Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0822390329. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c McDuffie, Erik S. (2008). "A "New Freedom Movement of Negro Women": Sojourning for Truth, Justice, and Human Rights during the Early Cold War"". Radical History Review. 2008 (101): 82. doi:10.1215/01636545-2007-039.
  3. ^ Martin, Charles (July 1985). "Race, Gender, and Southern Justice: The Rosa Lee Ingram Case". American Journal of Legal History. 29 (3): 251–268. doi:10.2307/844758. JSTOR 844758.
  4. ^ "William Alphaeus Hunton, Jr". Blackpast.org. Retrieved 6 March 2015.