The first in-depth analysis of the black feminist movement, Living for the Revolution
fills in a crucial but overlooked chapter in African American, women's, and social movement history. Through original oral history interviews with key activists and analysis of previously unexamined organizational records, Kimberly Springer traces the emergence, life, and decline of several black feminist organizations: the Third World Women's Alliance, Black Women Organized for Action, the National Black Feminist Organization, the National Alliance of Black Feminists, and the Combahee River Collective. The first of these to form was founded in 1968; all five were defunct by 1980. Springer demonstrates that these organizations led the way in articulating an activist vision formed by the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality.
The organizations that Springer examines were the first to explicitly use feminist theory to further the work of previous black women's organizations. As she describes, they emerged in response to marginalization in the civil rights and women's movements, stereotyping in popular culture, and misrepresentation in public policy. Springer compares the organizations' ideologies, goals, activities, memberships, leadership styles, finances, and communication strategies. Reflecting on the conflicts, lack of resources, and burnout that led to the demise of these groups, she considers the future of black feminist organizing, particularly at the national level. Living for the Revolution is an essential reference: it provides the history of a movement that influenced black feminist theory and civil rights activism for decades to come.
"Living for the Revolution is a fabulous book with rich data and fine analysis. To date, nothing has been written that fills this particular historical vacuum. African American women's participation in the feminist movement has only been told from the point of view of white feminists or in bits and pieces by others."--Belinda Robnett, author of How Long? How Long? African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights
"Living for the Revolution will force scholars working on either the women's movement or black liberation to change their standard narrative."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"Springer's discussion of the activities of the next generation . . . helps keep hope alive and the political fires burning. But the difficulties facing formal black feminist organizing need close scrutiny of new organization are ever to spring up and thrive. We must understand the whys and how s of their predecessors' demise as well as of their growth and legacy. This book makes an exhilarating contribution to this process."--Tricia Rose "Women's Review of Books "
"The arrival of Kimberly Springer's Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980 invites scholars to include gender and women activists in their discussions of the African-American political landscape between the Second Reconstruction and the Reagan revolution. Though speaking more explicitly to feminist historiography and organizational theory, Springer's study of five prominent Black feminist organizations signals a turn in our academic approach to the liberation struggle."--Elizabeth Hinton "Souls "