This project examines the founding and first years of the National Black Women's Health Project (1983), the first organization devoted solely to the health needs of women of color. The Project was a unique organization because it was one of the first which argued black women, because of the multiple jeopardies of racism, classism, and sexism, must fight the forces negatively impacting their emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Many of the founders had been involved on some level with white women's health organizations, and most continued to have friendly relationships with white activists. However, none of the founders felt that the larger Women's Health Movement did enough to improve the health status of black women. White health feminists’ insistence that there was a universal female experience erased the unique health concerns of women of color. Black women, through the guidance of the NBWHP, began writing their own agenda and developing their own programs. In crafting a new agenda, the Project created a space where women of color could articulate their own needs and ideas. White health feminists wanted an inclusive movement, but it did not appear that interracial organization in women's health groups helped achieve this goal.
Project members were not interested in separation, however, which suggested a clean break from other organizations. Rather, the Project sought independence from white organizations. Independence meant that Project members could write their own agenda, but it left room for inter-organizational alliances. For Project members and other women of color, inclusion did not mean that they had to join white women's groups. On the contrary, inclusion meant that all women, regardless of their race, would be able to organize themselves while building alliances and coalitions with each other. This presentation will examine two case studies- the battle against Depo Provera and disagreements over a 1992 pro-choice march- to show why coalitions were necessary for an inclusive movement.
This event is part of the 2016-17 Fellowship Brown-Bag Series,
which features informal talks by the Center for the Humanities and the
Public Sphere’s Rothman Faculty Summer Fellows, Tedder Doctoral
Fellows, and Rothman Doctoral Fellows. Fellows will speak for 20-30
minutes in length about their funded work, leaving ample time for
questions and discussion.
For more information on this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611