There are new movements emerging, movement of liberation, of which Black Lives Matter is probably the best known. But there are many arising throughout the country, even globally.
Of course, Black people have been struggling for liberation since we arrived here in chains. Slave revolts, abolitionism, varying forms of Black nationalism, civil rights movements, labor and socialism, and increasingly black feminism. You name it, we've been there.
But what's so remarkable about current movements, in contrast to most past movements, is the rise of SISTERS as LEADERS of our movements. BLM was mainly founded by Black women. Even in cinema, we have sisters coming out with films like FREE ANGELA AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS, or SELMA.
At least two of my Black female students have been active in Baltimore since at least the time of the Freddie Gray murder by Bmore's fascist pig cops.
These are not the sisters whom you will often find in Topix.)But, of course, the more politically advanced brothers are not very often found here either.)
But they are charting a path forward.
Now the vital roles of Black women in the Struggle is not new. As long as there has been a liberation struggle sisters were there. But they were often the unsung heroines of the movement. Some movements, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, may have actually been initiated by Black women.(At least one historian whose name escapes me now argues that it was not only black women, but WORKING CLASS sisters who ignited Montgomery in 1955. And it was the Movement they ignited which drop kicked Dr. King into his world historical leadership).
Over half of SNCC was made up of women. About 55%--60% of the Black Panther Party of the 1960s and early 70s were women.
But women usually didn't have much place in leadership. Leadership often was centered around some charismatic brother. And often when the System took him out (or if he sold out) the Movement faltered.
With the rise of Black women leadership new forms of organization are emerging. Probably the early SNCC, with its emphasis on COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP and participatory democracy, is the form that we are seeing in this era of rising black female leadership. It was precisely this emphasis on grassroots organizing and democratic collective leadership that was emphasized by Ella Baker, an elder who helped 1960s youth found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee--which was the left wing of the civil rights movement.
This is itself a potentially revolutionary phenomenon. For if we want to form a new society, then we must break with old ideas such as the Great Man theory of leadership, or hierarchical and authoritarian forms such as the Leninist vanguard party.
The common people must become their own liberators--they must be SELF-LIBERATING. And the new forms of leadership and organization emerging with the rising of radical Black women activists opens perhaps a path to this great historical development.
In the EMERGING new movements Black women are increasingly the primary leadership. Take a look at Dr. Keeanga Taylor's book, FROM BLACK LIVES MATTER TO BLACK LIBERATION
Among my Black students, I seem to see more women playing leading roles in the new activism. I cannot prove it by scientific means unless a study is done of those student activists in the Baltimore area. Thus far my impression does correspond with what scholars seem to be finding in their general studies of the new movements.
It is not the participation of Black women in large numbers that is new. That has always been the case. It is the increasing prominence of their LEADERSHIP, and the emergence of a different style of leadership in this context that is new. Probably most members of the SCLC, SNCC and the BLACK PANTHER PARTY were women. I KNOW that to be the case with SNCC and BLACK PANTHERS. But most leading roles were played by the brothers. I don't recall reading that there were leading female in SCLC or the NAACP back during the days of the civil rights movement. There were some but not many in SNCC and the Black Panthers.
In the NEW movements women are more prominent, in some cases even the MAJORITY of the leadership.
One thing to be noted is that the new movements are not so church-centered as the previous movements (especially the previous movements in the South). Church institutions are usually centered around the leadership of some charismatic minister, usually a man. They are not democratic institutions.
The new movements emphasize more grassroots focus and decentralized collective leadership more compatible with democracy than older forms of leadership, which were largely ecclesiastical and patriarchal.
Churches, in terms of their membership, are overwhelmingly majority female, but the leadership usually male. This has been accepted by most people (male and female) for centuries, but may now be less and less accepted.
The acceptance by MOST Blacks (male and female), and most people of EVERY ethnicity of patriarchal norms and leadership models, largely explains why women were not as prominent in previous Black movements.(The same was true of previous progressive movements of all kinds except when they were women's movements. Labor, Abolitionism and others were male dominated in leadership).
The decline in the legitimacy of patriarchal norms and leadership have opened up a space for talented and dedicated sisters to exercise leadership and new perspectives.