Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY series in New Political Science)
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 By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, this book uncovers the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and “intersectionality” and serves as an essential primer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
educated. She literally collected pennies from New England farm wives to start the school. I’m not saying it wasn’t elitist. I’m not saying it wasn’t racist. I’m not saying [laughs] it wasn’t white supremacist. And I’m also not saying I did not suffer the trials of the damned. “I went to a women’s college because they were some of the best and most elite colleges in the country for female students at the time. I’m not saying it wasn’t elitist. I’m not saying it wasn’t racist. I’m not saying it
weren’t welcome under U.S. capitalism, necessarily. We weren’t welcome in revolutionary societies, either. I went to Cuba in 1995 in a lesbian and gay delegation. So that was really quite historic. It was during a period when there was a lot of opening up of discussions about these issues in Cuba, pretty much driven by that movie, Strawberry and Chocolate. That was just such a paradigm shift. I actually marched in a May Day parade, in Havana, Cuba, in 1995, with an LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
forgotten dynamic in the unfolding of feminist and antiracist agendas. While this anniversary brings attention to many positive developments prompted by Anita Hill’s courageous testimony, the trajectory of the issues raised by AAWIDO—indeed, even the historical memory that it occurred—is not nearly as robust. The conditions that prompted these black women to fashion their own B uildin g B la ck Feminism 91 podium twenty years ago have continued to generate new defensive imperatives. Cast as
politics of male domination. . . . An accountable Black women’s studies would value all Black women’s experiences. Yet for a Black woman to teach a course on Black lesbians would probably, in most universities, spell career suicide, not to mention the personal and emotional repercussions she would inevitably face. . . . It is important for Black women teaching in the white-male academy always to realize the inherently contradictory and antagonistic nature of the conditions under which we do our
beginning. Also more on quilts and more on Black women’s crafts and folk culture. There is Black feminist science studies with Evelynn Hammonds’s work, and lots of work on HIV/AIDS, like Cathy Cohen’s. It’s a very provocative, compelling field. Barbara: We’re probably in the mid-beginnings of that. Let’s hope that fifty and one hundred years from now that there will be people doing Black women’s studies research, teaching it, writing about it, and saying, “Well, that was back at the dawn of time