As She the People pushes forward with building an active political movement centering women of color, it’s important to remember the power our movement inherits from the women who came before us.
There would be no She the People without the courage, defiance, and leadership of women of color who paved the way in the generations that came before us.
These are our ancestors—the godmothers of our movement.
When we unite our communities to fight for justice and freedom, we walk in the footsteps of Ella Baker, whose decades-long career in organizing sit-ins, freedom rides, and marches for Civil Rights precedes us.
When we refuse to have our culture washed away from us, whether it be our hair, our music, or our language, we share the experiences of Zitkála-Šá, “Red Bird,” who as a writer, composer, and Native American rights activist, fought back after she was forced to reject her Dakota traditions—her moccasins, long hair and language. She spent her life fighting for cultural recognition and preservation and was instrumental in the passage of the Indian Citizenship Bill in 1924.
Journalist and suffragist Ida B. Wells
When we stand up against unfair labor practices and the exploitation of immigrant workers, we tune into the strength that Luisa Moreno had when she organized Latina women during the international workers’ rights movement. She dedicated her life to unionizing and advocating for migrant workers.
When we fight for reparations for the injustices this country has inflicted on Black people, we are in solidarity with Yuri Kochiyama, who pursued reparations for other Japanese Americans incarcerated in internment camps during WWII. She fought alongside Black leaders like Malcolm X for civil rights.
When we tell our truth and share what we see with our own eyes, no matter how often we are
silenced or told we are lying, we share in the pioneering work of Ida B. Wells, who documented and reported on lynchings in the South, and crusaded against them.
These women, and other women like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Grace Lee Boggs, Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, Hawaii Queen Liliuokalani, and Barbara Jordan, lay out a map for us to find our way forward. Today we pause, meditate and give thanks for their leadership and find the inner strength that connects us with them in today’s movement for justice and freedom.
Aimee Allison is a Senior Fellow at Prism and founder and president of She the People, a national network connecting women of color to transform our democracy. You can follow her on Twitter at @aimeeallison.