Barbara Smith is an author, activist, and independent scholar who has played a groundbreaking role in opening up a national cultural and political dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. She was among the first to define an African American women’s literary tradition and to build Black women’s studies and Black feminism in the United States. She has been politically active in many movements for social justice since the 1960s.
She is co-editor of Conditions: Five, The Black Women’s Issue (1979); All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies (1982); and The Reader’s Companion to U. S. Women’s History (1998). She is editor of Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983).
Smith coauthored Yours in Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism (1984). Her essays, The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom, were published in 1998. Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, was published in 2014. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, was published in 2017.
She was cofounder and publisher until 1995 of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first national U. S. publisher for women of color. She served two terms as a member of the Albany, New York Common Council from 2006 to 2013. She recently retired from her position as Special Community Projects Coordinator for the City of Albany helping to implement the Equity Agenda. In 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2017 a grateful and inspired group of people launched the Smith Caring Circle as a national tribute to Smith’s five decades of work, words, and activism.
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