Black women in the women’s movement

nationalcongressblackwomenIn her keynote speech to the 1973 National Congress of Black Women, Rosemary Brown asked

But what did I learn of us? Of you and I, the Black women who through choice, or luck, or by birth, make this our home. Where do we fit into this space and into the changes and development that are taking us? …. Where do Black women fit into the Women’s Movement?

This question was asked again and again through the era of renewed feminist activism from the 1970s to the 1990s. Invisible … marginalized … erased … racist … there are many adjectives that could be used to describe the struggles by Black women for equality and recognition not only in the larger society but within the women’s movement itself.

Explore the materials already on the Rise Up! website as a first step to learning more about the stories of Black feminist engagement from the 1970s to 1990s. There is much more to uncover. Please let us know if you can help us add archival materials and shine more light on this activism.


Click on the images below to read about the Congress of Black Women of Canada and the Black Women’s Collective (Toronto). Go through the records of meetings and conventions. Learn about the issues these activists organized around, including childcare and education, police violence and racism, international solidarity and human rights. Find out how their criticisms reshaped International Women’s Day events and the fight for abortion rights. Uncover the names of the women involved.








thumbnail of OURLIVES-02-01-MAR-APR-1987The publications of these organizations provide additional insights into Black feminist activism.

Our Lives: Canada’s First Black Women’s Newspaper

Congress News




black-womens-collective-copyiwd1989womenagainstpovertyRosemary Brown’s speech to the 1973 National Congress of Black Women

Angela Robertson‘s speech at the 1989 Toronto International Women’s Day Rally in December 1989

Statement of Women’s Coalition Against Racism and Police Violence in December 1989


The following films can be viewed directly from the Rise Up! website

Black Mother, Black Daughter (Sylvia Hamilton & Claire Prieto)
Black Mother Black Daughter explores the lives and experiences of black women in Nova Scotia, their contributions to the home, the church and the community and the strengths they pass on to their daughters

Older, Stronger, Wiser (Claire Prieto)
In this short documentary, five black women talk about their lives in rural and urban Canada between the 1920s and 1950s. What emerges is a unique history of Canada’s black people and the legacy of their community elders.

Sisters in the Struggle (Dionne Brand & Ginny Stikeman)
This documentary features Black women active in politics as well as community, labour and feminist organizing. They share their insights and personal testimonies on the double legacy of racism and sexism, linking their personal struggles with the ongoing battle to end systemic discrimination and violence against women and people of colour.



Sisters in Struggle Building a Global Movement - with celebrated scholar lecturer and fighter for human rights Angela Y. Davis