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Black Freedom from Selma to Soweto: Gender, Consciousness, and Power

Two distinct, mutually influential, and globally inspirational black freedom struggles in the last half of the twentieth century – against segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa – are largely understood through charismatic leadership. Central as the revolutionary philosophies of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Stokely Carmichael, Steve Biko, Barney Pityana, and others were in speaking about and actualizing black freedom, women activists played an equal part in these movements. Some of this forgotten history has been uncovered in recent years by black feminist scholars. Much of it remains unacknowledged and unknown. My interdisciplinary analysis focuses on women’s political writings, speeches, life narratives, and first-person accounts to span historical research, political discourse analysis, literary analysis, and an examination of print media by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the South African Student Organisation (SASO). My book, Black Freedom from Selma to Soweto, offers the first comparative account of women’s participation in Black Power and Black Consciousness struggles to argue that women expressed a class and gender specific activism that moved these movements forward. My book also charts the continued relevance of these efforts in community mobilization and its legacies in contemporary efforts to secure racial, economic, and gender justice.


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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].