Updated: Feb 22
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Black History is everyday, don't forget that. For those who need reminding, we have 28 day of Black history, Black joy, and Black liberation and celebration planned.
"This is Black history that we are making! We are Black history, it’s in the making. Even if we don't, our stories gon' make it!" - Bella Bahhs⠀
Day 1: Angela Y. Davis
“It’s always young people who are the leaders of revolution and those of us who are older have to accept that.” - Angela Y. Davis
Davis came out as a lesbian in 1997. Her public announcement represented both a personal declaration and made more urgent her belief that racial and gender issues are deeply interconnected. “We didn’t include gender issues in [earlier] struggles,” she says. “There would have been no way to imagine that trans movements would effectively demonstrate to people that it is possible to effectively challenge what counts as normal in so many different areas of our lives.” She smiles. “A part of me is glad that we didn’t win the revolution we were fighting for back then, because there would still be male supremacy. There would still be hetero-patriarchy. There would be all of these things that we had not yet come to consciousness about.” — New York Times
Day 2: Alice Walker
In 1983, Alice Walker became the ﬁrst Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her classic and critically acclaimed novel, The Color Purple. An American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist, Walker wrote and spoke to Black women's relationship with each other and gave life to the passion between Black women.
“we are the ones we have been waiting for”
― Alice Walker
Watch an interview with Alice here
Day 3: Ericka Hart (she/they)
Ericka Hart, M.Ed. is a black queer non-binary femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award-winning sexuality educator speaking to the dismantling oppressive systems in sex-ed.
Hart describes themselves as "your fav killjoy" because they keep it real and challenges our thoughts about life, politics, work, sex, anti-Blackness, and beyond. They also remind white and non-black people of color to pay Black individuals of multiple intersections of marginalized communities for their labor.
Follow them on Instagram for their own curated "28 Days of Black History" called Black People Tell Black History. Get into it!
Also check out their podcast Hoodrat to Headwrap.
"My podcast, Hoodrat to Headwrap, is not a destination. My partner Ebony is a self proclaimed hoodrat, and I wear a lot of headwraps. It’s just me and him talking shit about life. The subtitle is a decolonize podcast, so we often times talk about stuff that’s happening in the world. Stuff that’s happening personally in our lives, and work to decolonize that topic." - Ericka Hart
Read more about Ericka Hart here
Day 4: Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson was a trans activist, performer, and survivor. Marsha co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, popularly known as STAR, with fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera and was an active member of the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACTUP). “Transvestite”—a term many today consider offensive.
She was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. The “P” in Marsha’s name stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which is what Marsha would say in response to questions about her gender. We don’t know how Marsha would identify today although some lean towards non-binary identities when describing Marsha.
Marha died in 1992. Her body was recovered in the Hudson River, and her death was ruled a suicide. Later authorities reclassified her death as a drowning from undetermined causes. Honor to work and service of Marsha P. Johnson everyday and let her death be a reminder of the ongoing violence Black transgender women and femmes face everyday.
"As long as my people don't have their rights across America, there's no reason for celebration." - Marsha P. Johnson
She helped pave the way for us and yet the work is not over.
Day 5: Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Butler’s work is still relevant to this day as it challenged gender stereotypes and explored themes of Black injustice, global warming, women’s rights and political disparity.
Interest in her books over the years is enormously due to the issues she addressed in her Afro-Futuristic, feminist novels and short fiction.
Butler’s work is being taught in over 200 colleges and universities nationwide. Octavia E. Butler is a Black person whose work "isn't just a prescient dystopia—it's a monument to the wisdom of Black women and girls."
If you are looking for Black literature to read, we suggest Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.
Day 6: Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni is a Black poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the course of her 52-year career, Nikki Giovanni has written 12 children’s books and eight nonfiction books, and she has released 10 spoken word albums, one of which she received a Grammy nomination for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection.
Nikki Giovanni was an active member of the Black Arts Movement during the late 1960s. She published her first collection of poetry entitled Black Feeling Black Talk. Giovanni encourages us to write and her poetry encourages Black solidarity and revolutionary action.
Watch an interview of Nikki Giovanni here.
Watch this iconic conversation with Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin here.
Day 7: Monica Roberts
Monica Roberts was a trans Black writer, blogger and trans rights activist. She was the founder of TransGriot, a blog focusing on issues pertaining to trans women, particularly Black and other women of color. Roberts unapologetically spoke truth to power. Her legacy moves through us at Affinity as she shared her wisdom first hand during our Blackprint series on Building Economic Power.
Before her groundbreaking blog, there were few news sites for Black transgender women to share their voices and have their stories told accurately and authentically. No journalist had painstakingly recorded and reported on the murders of transgender women of color before Monica Roberts. We are grateful she took on the task to uplift all of our siblings' voices.
Watch Monica speak about The Blackprint: Building Economic Power during our Blackprint series on YouTube.
Read more about Monica Roberts here
Day 8: Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt was a Black singer, actress, dancer, voice actress, comedienne, activist, author, and songwriter. She is most know known for her highly distinctive singing and her liberated view on life. She was once called her the "most exciting woman in the world".
In 1968, her career in the U.S. deteriorated after she made anti-Vietnam War statements at a White House luncheon. Towards the end of the luncheon, Lady Bird asked the room of 50 women, from groups such as the Association of Colored Women's Club and the League of Women Voters, including a few governor's wives, for their comments. Kitt raised her hand and told the first lady of the United States exactly what she thought" USA TODAY
Kitt took her career oversee and in 1978 made a successful return to Broadway in the 1978 original production of the musical Timbuktu!, for which she received the first of her two Tony Award nominations.
Day 9: Audre Lorde
“The love expressed between women is particular and powerful because we have had to love in order to live; love has been our survival.”
Audre Lorde was fluent in poetry. She spoke of poetry being her first language. Lorde was a freedom fighter against injustices. Self-described as being “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”, her impact on feminist writings, the fight against racism and lesbian culture is ground-breaking to this day.
In the essence of Black History Month, we reflect on so many trailblazing figures. As we are reflecting on such transformative figures in history is important. Audre made significant impact and contributions to feminist criticism. She highlighted how feminism was looking specifically through the white, heterosexual experience. Which made the queer and women of color the other being an exclusionary movement. Lorde argued that feminism needed to be inclusive and needed to value the experiences of all women, not just one type of woman.
This argument was beautifully depicted in her book Sister Outsider, became a shaping influence in the development of both Black feminist theory and intersectionality.
Listen to an interview of Audre Lorde here.
Day 10: Angelica Ross
Angelica Ross is a Black businesswoman, actress, and transgender rights advocate. Ross launched TransTech Social Enterprises in Chicago in 2014.
At the intersections of gender, class, race, and religion, Angelica Ross has made a career out of helping others navigate the challenges that come along with being a member of more than one minority. Over the span of 10+ years Angelica built a business that began in the margins of society, outside the formal education system. Angelica an actor, original content creator, the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises and the TransTech Summit and President of Miss Ross, Inc.
Day 11: Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae is a Black queer American singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, and record producer. "When you see Janelle Monáe onstage, she is working. Flowing. Singing and moving as if she inherited the hips of James Brown. Working it out emotionally, where no topics are off-limits, with lyrics covering class-based ostracism and woman-to-woman romance. Her concerts hold a multitude of audiences in one space, and her eight Grammy nominations speak to a star whose appeal is universal—even as she defies convention." - Janelle Monáe Is Blurring the Lines Between Actor and Activist—and She's Not Stopping Anytime Soon
On January 10, 2020, she tweeted the hashtag #IAmNonbinary, along with a quoted tweet, which trended on Twitter that day. Monáe said in an interview with The Cut a month after the tweet that "I tweeted the #IAmNonbinary hashtag in support of Non-binary Day and to bring more awareness to the community. I retweeted the Steven Universe meme ‘Are you a boy or a girl? I’m an experience’ because it resonated with me, especially as someone who has pushed boundaries of gender since the beginning of my career. I feel my feminine energy, my masculine energy, and energy I can't even explain."
Read about how she's blurring between actor and activist here.
Day 12: Toni Morrison
Nobel prizewinner and author whose stories have a strong historical and cultural base and a style, structure and tone that is specifically Black, Toni Morrison, was the only Black writer and one of the few women to have received the Nobel prize for literature.
‘I wanted to give back something. I wasn’t marching. But I could make sure there was a published record of those who did march and did put themselves on the line.’
In the late sixties and early seventies, before she was known as an author, Morrison was a Random House trade editor who almost singlehandedly introduced black radical activists to mainstream American readers. No single editor or major publishing house has surpassed Morrison’s contribution in the intervening four decades.
Read more about Toni Morrison here.
Day 13: Charlene A. Carruthers
We do this work through what we call a “Black queer feminist lens” because we believe that in order to achieve liberation for all Black folks we have to be radically inclusive — not just in our analysis, but also in our practice, in how we go about leadership. We believe that a Black Freedom Movement in our lifetime is possible.
Charlene A. Carruthers is a political strategist, cultural worker and PhD student in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. A practitioner of telling more complete stories, her research includes Black feminist political economies, abolition of patriarchal and carceral systems, and the role of cultural work within the Black Radical Tradition.
Her work spans more than 15 years of community organizing across racial, gender and economic justice movements. As the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), she has worked alongside hundreds of young Black activists to build a national base of activists in a member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. She is the author of the book “Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements (available in English and Spanish language).
Read Charlene's full bio at charlenecarruthers.com
Day 15: Raquel Willis
Raquel Willis is a Black transgender activist, award-winning writer, and media strategist dedicated to elevating the dignity of marginalized people, particularly Black transgender people. She has held ground-breaking posts throughout her career including director of communications for the Ms. Foundation, executive editor of Out magazine, and national organizer for Transgender Law Center (TLC).
In 2018, she founded Black Trans Circles, a project of TLC, focused on developing the leadership of Black trans women in the South and Midwest by creating healing justice spaces to work through oppression-based trauma and incubating community organizing efforts to address anti-trans murder and violence.
Day 16: bell hooks
bell hooks is a Black American scholar and activist whose work examined the connections between race, gender, and class. She often explored the varied perceptions of Black women and Black women writers and the development of feminist identities.
In the 1980s hooks established a support group for Black women called the Sisters of the Yam, which she later used as the title of a book, published in 1993, celebrating Black sisterhood. A passionate scholar, hooks is among the leading public intellectuals of her generation. She has published over 30 books and scholarly articles, in topics such as masculinity and patriarchy, self-help and engaged pedagogy, feminist consciousness and community creation, and representation and politics.
Watch the episode The Real Influencers as they cover bell hooks here.
Day 17: Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox is a Black Emmy-nominated actress, documentary film producer and prominent equal rights advocate. Cox became one of the stars of 'Orange Is the New Black' and the first openly transgender person in history to receive an Emmy nomination.
Laverne Cox is a transgender actress who studied dance for years before doing TV work that included Law & Order episodes and the reality show TRANSform Me. She stepped into the limelight in a major way with her role on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, eventually becoming the first openly transgender person in history to be nominated for an Emmy. Cox has continued to be an advocate for trans and LGBT rights while appearing in additional screen projects such as The Mindy Project, Doubt and Grandma.
Find out more about Laverne Cox here.
Day 18: Janet Mock
Janet Mock is a Black trans writer, director and executive producer. She’s the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs, Redefining Realness (2014) and Surpassing Certainty (2017) about her journey as a trans woman.
In 2019, Mock signed a historic deal with Netflix, making her the first trans person to sign a production pact with a major studio. With her partnership with the streamer, Janet will create and produce her own television projects. That same year, she received Harvard University’s Artist of the Year Award and was named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100” and included on Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” list. She has also been named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times and Marie Claire, and has appeared on the covers of Entertainment Weekly, British VOGUE, Marie Claire and the Hollywood Reporter.
Listen to Janet Mock speak about telling stories of Black trans women on NPR here.
Day 19: Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker was an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent, and civil rights activist. Her career was centered primarily in Europe, mostly in her adopted France. She was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she renounced her U.S. citizenship and became a French national after her marriage to French industrialist Jean Lion in 1937. She was known for aiding the French Resistance during World War II. After the war, she was awarded the Resistance Medal by the French Committee of National Liberation, the Croix de guerre by the French military, and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.
Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement. Although based in France, Baker supported the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s. When she arrived in New York with her husband Jo, they were refused reservations at 36 hotels because of racial discrimination.
In 1963, she spoke at the March on Washington at the side of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Baker was the only official woman speaker. While wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d'honneur, she introduced the "Negro Women for Civil Rights."
Read more about Josephine Baker.
Day 20: Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, is a leading authority in the area of civil rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law. Her work has been foundational in two fields of study that have come to be known by terms that she coined: critical race theory and intersectionality.
Crenshaw has worked extensively on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and race in the domestic arena including violence against women, structural racial inequality and affirmative action. She has served as a member of the National Science Foundation's committee to research violence against women and has consulted with leading foundations, social justice organizations and corporations to advance their race and gender equity initiatives.
In 1996, she co-founded the African American Policy Forum to house a variety of projects designed to deliver research-based strategies to better advance social inclusion.
Watch Crenshaw's TEDx on intersectionality on YouTube.
Day 21: Nina Simone
Nina Simone was a Black American singer who created urgent emotional intensity by singing songs of love, protest, and Black empowerment in a dramatic style, with a rough-edged voice. She became sensitive to racism when at age 12 she gave a piano recital in a library where her parents had to stand in back because they were Black. A student of classical music at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, she began performing as a pianist.
In the 1960s Simone added protest songs, became a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and performed at civil rights demonstrations. Her 1964 song “Mississippi Goddam” exemplifies this period. Angered by American racism, she left the United States in 1973 and lived in Barbados, Africa, and Europe for the rest of her life.
Learn more about Nina Simone here.