Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY series in New Political Science)
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Reveals a remarkable woman’s life and her contributions to social justice movements related to Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism.
As an organizer, writer, publisher, scholar-activist, and elected official, Barbara Smith has played key roles in multiple social justice movements, including Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism. Her four decades of grassroots activism forged collaborations that introduced the idea that oppression must be fought on a variety of fronts simultaneously, including gender, race, class, and sexuality. By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, this book uncovers the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and “intersectionality” and serves as an essential primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.
“Barbara Smith is a creator of modern feminism as a writer, organizer, editor, publisher, and scholar. Now she has added to her decades as an activist outside the system by becoming an elected official who truly listens, represents, and creates bridges to a common good. She has shown us that democracy is a seed that can only be planted where we are.” — Gloria Steinem
“Barbara Smith is one of the grand pioneering and prophetic voices of our time. Her truth still hurts and heals!” — Cornel West
“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around is not a memoir, a biography, nor a reader. It is a reflection and a conversation. It is also a montage of forty years of documents, interviews, and articles that provide useful lessons for social justice work. This book is a tour de force that documents the life’s work of Barbara Smith and the freedom struggles she shaped.” — Duchess Harris, author of Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama
get jobs elsewhere. That’s just the way that was. Our mother was born in 1922, and she had had rheumatic fever as a child. This is when they’re living way down in Dublin, Georgia; who knows what the medical facilities for Black people were like then. In the spring of 1956—although these two incidents are unrelated, they were related in our minds, my sister’s and mine—she was on a public city bus that had an accident, and she was injured. I think she was treated. That was kind of the beginning of
students. The Civil Actions Group focused on Civil Rights, but it was also getting very involved with anti–Vietnam War organizing. In the spring of 1967, which was my sophomore year, there was this major demonstration in New York City against the war in Vietnam, a march to the United Nations. That was the first time I ever saw hippies, and there was also a contingent that had come from Harlem. One of the speakers was Martin Luther King Jr., who gave one of his first major speeches [against the
mainstream white people. Laura: Even as a white Italian American my relationship to white America was that of a very dark person. Oh, I was better off than some because my eyes are hazel. But I wasn’t as lucky as my brother whose eyes are blue. He was just so much closer to the ideal, to “belonging.” . . . I knew on some level that I’d never be beautiful. . . . This notion that America fosters cultural pluralism is so false. White people apply racist standards to each other. Separation on the
cultural expressions and rewrite history in this light. I am going to read now from my essay, “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism,” and it is dedicated to all my sisters, especially Beverly and Demita: I do not know where to begin. Long before I tried to write this I realized that I was attempting something unprecedented, something dangerous, merely by writing about Black women writers from a feminist perspective and about Black lesbian writers from any perspective at all. These things have not
about change: integrity, awareness, courage, and redefining your own success. I also feel that the Women’s Movement will deal with racism in a way that it has not been dealt with before in any other movement—fundamentally, organically, and non-rhetorically. White women have a materially different relationship to the system of racism than white men. They get less out of it and often function as its pawns whether they recognize it or not. It is something that living under white male rule has