Black Women Organized for Political Action

Introducing intersectionality to civil rights

In looking back on the 60s, Audre Lorde famously said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” This statement has since been cited ad infinitum by those preaching what scholars now call “intersectionality”: the idea that any oppressed person actually stands at the intersection of multiple identities which may be oppressing or privileging in and of themselves.

Consider for a moment your own intersectionality: your race, your gender identity, your sexuality, your class, your religious beliefs, on and on. What perspective would all of these personal attributes bring to a discussion about race and only race?

At the point in history (late 60s) when the Black Panther Party was rising, founders took a masculinist approach. But a few years later the party had a female majority. Why? When the FBI declared the BPP a national threat in 1968, mostly male members were targeted (read incarcerated or killed). Their absence allowed an already growing black female presence to step into leadership roles. Angela Davis, Kathleen Cleaver, and Barbara Easley-Cox were some of the front runners.

Such a shift in leadership caused the BPP to become more attuned to the intersectional struggle of black women:
Some of the strongest, loudest, and most relentless people in this movement were the women. They had to be, not only to survive the daily struggle of being a woman of color in a white man’s world, but to also combat the sexism within their own movement.

And in addition to black feminism (womanism) being incorporated into the BPP’s ideologies, political groups dedicated specifically to womanism also cropped up in the late 1960s—including Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) which you are standing in front of now.

BWOPA still focuses on their same ideology of black female empowerment and is still active in Oakland with additional chapters throughout California.

If you are here during business hours, go knock on the door. Your goal is to ask the women inside what their organization is focusing on at present. Among many other facets of life they are likely to talk about, you will definitely hear a feminist approach to #BlackLivesMatter. Ask about that movement’s leaders and don’t be too surprised when they rattle off more female leaders than the media spotlights. HINT: Google #SayHerName and also check the Twitter account for @Nettaaaaaaaa

Street Address:

920 Peralta Street, Suite 2A Oakland, CA 94607 [map]

Cite this Page:

Camille J. Brown, “Black Women Organized for Political Action,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 14, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/88.

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