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Mapping Legacies of Black Feminist Organizing in the U.S. South

Authors: LaToya Eaves*, Middle Tennessee State University
Topics: Gender, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Black Geographies, Black Feminism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Outside of the Civil Rights Movement, the U.S. South is rarely taken seriously as a focus for feminist geography and scholarly discussions of activism. However, it should be noted for a strong legacy of liberation work that revolves around racial, economic, gender, and sexual justice. Indeed, some of the most prominent activist figures in the United States and globally are Southern-born Black women. These Angela Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Septima Clark, Alice Walker, Ella Baker, Dorothy Height, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruby Bridges, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, and the list goes on. These women represent an organizing framework built on intellectual and grassroots organizing that has created a counternarrative to the idea that the U.S. South and its people are stagnant, backwards, and lack bodily and spatial agency. The discursive configurations of the South are powerful. As such, the paper highlights the history and challenges of organizing in/along/for Southern spaces alongside the opportunities presented for new forms of socio-spatial knowledges. The paper highlights a range of activist work being undertaken by organizations led by and/or including a strong contingency of Black feminist, queer, and trans organizers. The climate of the South lends itself to clear multi-issue activism that incorporates racial, gender, environmental, and sexual justice alongside spatial and class liberation struggle.

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