Lavender Menace

On May 1st, 1970 a group of around forty lesbians took over the stage of NOW's 2nd Congress to Unite Women to ensure that Queer rights would be discussed. Twenty of them stood in front of the scheduled speakers wearing shirts with the words "Lavender Menace" stenciled on while the rest of the group sat incognito in the audience of four hundred women from where they could help to steer the conversation. Rita Mae Brown, an organizer for the group, announced that the conference would not continue until they got to discuss Queer issues within the Women's Liberation movement. Until this moment the general attitude straight and cisgender women had towards the Queer members of the movement was a guarded one, with many Women's Liberationists fearing that an association with Queer people would give conservatives ground to undermine the movement. The Lavender Menace's name even originated from a Betty Friedan speech in which she warned women about the "threat" that Queer people posed to them. The Lavender Menace demanded acknowledgement and acceptance for Queer women in the movement and helped to put a face to the minority. They worked to amplify Queer voices and educate movement members on the issues that many were uncomfortable addressing.

Combahee River Collective

The Combahee River Collective (CRC) named themselves after the first female-led military campaign in 1863 by Harriet Tubman, who freed hundreds of enslaved people in the Combahee River area of South Carolina. The Collective began as a Boston branch of the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO), with members from the Black power, socialist, anti-war, and lesbian activist movements. In 1974, the group split off from the NBFO to focus on how class and sexuality were linked to inequities concerning gender and race. In fact, the CRC articulated the ideas behind "intersectional" feminism before the term was even coined in 1989. By 1976, the CRC functioned as a study group and built awareness about the concept of Black women's liberation. They held retreats during the late 1970s to circulate ideas, readings, and organizational efforts. In 1977, members Demita Frazier, Beverly Smith, and Barbara Smith published the Combahee River Collective Statement. The statement explained how liberation movements of the 1970s often excluded women of color. Their goal was to create a space for Black women to explore the unique "layers" of their oppression. Aside from consciousness-raising, the CRC engaged in activism all over Boston, specifically targeting capitalism and imperialism. Although many considered socialism "radical," the CRC argued it was the bare minimum in creating an equitable America for Black women. The Collective fiercely advocated for causes such as reproductive rights, welfare programs, and an end to forced sterilizations and sexual/physical abuse. They founded welfare centers, organized public events, and visited college campuses and high schools. Above all, the CRC maintained that when they finally won freedom for Black women, everyone would be free.

Miss America Pageant Protest

What started as a small committee of 13 women known as "the New York Radical Women" sparked a movement of hundreds of women joining to gain attention and liberate more women.Taking place in Atlantic City, New Jersey thousands of women gathered on the boardwalk on September 7th 1968 outside the live broadcasting of the Miss America Pageant. Held up by the women were signs stating "Let's judge ourselves as people" and "I'm not a woman not a toy, pet or mascot". An organizer of the protest, Robin Morgan, handed out "women power" pins which featured a white background, and printed in red a raised fist within the female gender symbol.On the boardwalk many demonstrations occurred besides marching and singing, "Originally the women planned to burn "articles of torture," but they were denied a fire permit and decided instead to throw their girdles, bras, hair curlers, and wigs into a large "freedom trash can," which perpetuated the myth of "bra burning" at the protest. Inside the Boardwalk Hall where the pageant took place four protesters hatched a plan. While a contestant made her speech, the protesters unveiled a bed sheet from the balcony that said "Women's Liberation" and began to shout "No more Miss America!" before they were quickly removed by police. Between the demonstration inside and outside the pageant, this historic event made headlines. that pushed the women liberation agenda.This was, as Robin Morgan states, "A sisterhood of free women giving birth to a new lifestyle, and the throes of its labor are authentic stages in the Revolution."

Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was a grassroots organization founded in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. Their goal was to address police brutality, inadequate education, hunger, a lack of proper medical resources, and unemployment in impoverished Black communities all over the country. Many issues the BPP worked to address specifically affected Black women and although the organization was originally founded by men, by 1968 the majority of its members were women. In many ways, the Black Panther Party encouraged women to take on leadership positions and through their work, they were able to learn communication, administrative, and grassroots organizing skills from hands-on engagement with the community's needs. During its early years, many of the Party's male Panthers were arrested for their work, which meant the unincarcerated women of the Black Panther Party had to run the bulk of the organization's most important plans and initiatives. Though there was some encouragement for women to be leaders in the movement, still many women of the Black Panther Party were bombarded with sexism from their male counterparts. Elaine Brown, a well-known activist, and former Panther attests that hypermasculine attitudes destroyed the organization. According to her, women were expected to clean up after, have sex with, and be submissive to the men of the Party and many members thought if a woman assumed a leadership position she was emasculating black men, and therefore attempting to destroy the prosperity of their race. Despite the sexism women of the BPP frequently faced, they were able to do impactful work, specifically with the Party's medical and educational programs where women's participation was seen as necessary and valuable.

The Young Lords Organization (YLO) was a Puerto Rican human rights group founded by José "Cha-Cha" Jiménez in Chicago of 1968. Jimènez was an active member of the Black Panther Party and after leading their Chicago chapter, he decided to start the YLO. The organization was dedicated to fighting against the adversities Puerto Ricans faced such as gentrification, American colonialism, and police brutality while advocating for more educational, medical, and economic resources in their communities. Jiménez was very adamant about the need for women's liberation in anti-racist movements and implemented feminist ideology into the organization very early on. In the Young Lord's 13 Point Platform, a document that outlined their goals, the YLO states "We want equality for women. Machismo must be revolutionary, not oppressive...Our men must support their women in their fight for economic and social equality, and must recognize that our women are equals in every way within the revolutionary ranks." Not only were women protected, prioritized, and valued in the Young Lords, but the organization even set up Chicago's very first community day-care center so that women could become more active in the movement. Like the Black Panther Party, women of the YLO learned crucial skills needed for grassroots organizing through the organization that they carried throughout their lifelong activism. Of these women include Denise Oliver and Iris Morales, two women who have made American history as both scholars and activists. Although the Young Lords Organization had set up many successful programs and initiatives, they are most well known for their free breakfast program, street clean-ups, free clinic, and for establishing the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

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