Monday, February 01, 2021

Causes for Celebration - Celebrating Black Women

Listed below are brief descriptions of five of the major causes of celebration for Black women that we covered in my course on Womanist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. I compiled this information from my class notes as my classmates presented on these topics, except for the one on Black women in higher education which I researched and presented.

1. Black women artists, authors, and musicians

Zora Neale Hurston, author (1891-1960)

Alice Walker, author (b. 1944)
Toni Morrison, author (1931-2019)
Nina Simone, musician (1933-2003)
  • Mississippi Goddam (1964)
  • Sinnerman (1962)
  • I Put A Spell On You (1965)
  • I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (1967)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, musician  (1915-1973)
  • This Train (1939)
  • Shout Sister, Shout! (1941)
  • Didn’t It Rain (1964)
  • Strange Things Happening Every Day (1944)

Aretha Franklin
, musician (1942-2018)
  • A Natural Woman (1968)
  • Respect (1967)
  • Think (1968)
  • You Make Me Feel (1968)


2. Black women’s political involvement and activism

  • Meet some of the Black women behind Louisville's movement for racial justice (The Courier-Journal, July 21, 2020)
  • ‘If not now, when?’: Black women seize political spotlight By CLAIRE GALOFARO and KAT STAFFORD, September 17, 2020
    • “People told us that education is key to being successful,” Brown said. “What did Black women do? Black women, out of any constituency group in this country, we enter college more than any other group in this country. Then why does the wealth not reflect that?”
    • "You have taken our votes for granted for years. But guess what?” she said. “It’s payback time: What are you going to do for us?”
    • “It’s about time we represent ourselves,” McNeal said. Now she’s a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
  • Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president (1972). Her motto and title of her autobiography—Unbossed and Unbought—illustrates her outspoken advocacy for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.” Vice President-elect Harris styled her campaign colors after Chisholm’s as a tribute.
  • Septima Clark was a lifelong educator and activist. She received her bachelor’s from Benedict College in Columbia in 1942 and a master’s from Hampton (Virginia) Institute (now Hampton University) in 1945. She was active in the NAACP and involved in a lawsuit that secured equal pay for black teachers. She was known as the Queen Mother of the Civil Rights movement, teaching literacy courses and registering thousands to vote. She coordinated Citizenship Education courses at the Highlander Folk School in rural Tennessee, which is still active today.
  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a prominent journalist, activist, and researcher, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In her lifetime, she battled sexism, racism, and violence. Wells-Barnett also used her skills as a journalist to shed light on the conditions of African Americans throughout the South.

3. Embracing diversity of Black gender and sexuality

  • Audre Lorde - Self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" who dedicated her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and homophobia.
  • The Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, the first out Black lesbian elder in The United Methodist Church, is the author of Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology
    • "My Womanist perspective has been shaped by my experiences of being Black, woman and queer lesbian in a nation filled with people who have been hostile to all these very ways of existing. I try to encourage others to love themselves unconditionally and to do the work to move beyond survival to thriving." - Lightsey

4. Criminal justice reform

5. Black women in higher education

  • Black Women Are the Most Educated Group in the US
  • From 2000–2001 to 2015–2016, the number of bachelor's degrees earned by Black students increased by 75% and the number of associate degrees earned by Black students increased by 110%.
  • The numbers of Black students enrolled in master's degree programs nearly doubling between 1996 and 2016
  • A 2014 study shows the percent of Black women enrolled in college in relation to their other race-gender groups.
  • Black women are also starting to outpace other groups in earning degrees. 
  • Although Black women are 12.7% of the female population in the US, they make up over 50% of the number of Black people who earn postsecondary degrees.
  • Percentage-wise, Black women outpace white women, Latinas, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.
Dr. Kaila Story, Associate Professor/Audre Lorde Endowed Chair, University of Louisville 

PhD-African American Studies, Temple University, 2007.
Podcast: Strange Fruit: Musings on Politics, Pop Culture, and Black Gay Life  

Dr. Story is Associate Professor, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, with a joint appointment in the Department of Pan-African Studies. She holds the Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

She lives in Louisville with her wife, Missy, and has created a number of courses at the university that deal with gender, sexuality, race, and the intersectionality of those identities.

Some of those courses include Black Lesbian Lives and Queer Perspectives in Literature and Film:
“Because my identities rested in those other intersections — being a lesbian and being an African American — I got into a job where I was able to create all these kinds of courses,” Story said.

She had an op-ed published in The Courier-Journal in 2019: “Learning about our black and Latinx LGBTQ+ history is necessary for our survival.”

Dr. Debra J. Mumford, Seminary Dean; Frank H. Caldwell Professor of Homiletics at Louisville Seminary

Howard University B.S.; 
American Baptist Seminary of the West, M.Div.; 
Graduate Theological Union M.A.B.L. and Ph.D.
  • Dr. Mumford, is an ordained minister in American Baptist Churches, USA, and affiliate minister with the Alliance of Baptists.
  • Since 2008, Mumford has served as a mentor for the Louisville Youth Group, a grassroots organization that provides resources and a safe space for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people ages 14 to 20.
  • "The world in which we live is desperately in need of prophetic voices: voices that speak against injustice and demand both personal and communal accountability. In my classroom, I help students think critically not only about the biblical text and homiletic theory, but about the living texts of their lives, their communities, and their world so they might find and develop their prophetic voices for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ." -Debra J. Mumford
  • You can listen to the sermon she preached for the Fall 2020 Convocation:


This is part of my final project for "Womanist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.":

Key Terms in Womanist Bible Interpretation

Essay summaries:

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