Women’s march, circa 1976
Womanism is a term used to refer to feminists of color, more specifically Black feminists. Womanism centers the experiences, contributions and efforts of Black feminists to better the world around them for all of humanity, not just themselves. Womanists speak to the injustices faced by Black women, men, children and families and frequently fight against these injustices by leading, participating in or supporting various social justice movements.
The term was first coined by African American writer and author of The Color Purple, Alice Walker. In her work, In Search of Our Mother’s Garden: Womanist Prose (Harcourt Brace, 1983) Walker characterized womanism as inclusive of Black women’s courage, willfulness, audacious behavior and grown-up, in charge demeanor as well as their love for other women, oneself and humanity. Since Walker’s coining of the term, others have extended the concept of womanism to various fields, including Africana womanism and womanist theology or spirituality.
Citation: Source: Brenda Eichelberger / National Alliance of Black Feminists Papers [Box 11, Folder 3], Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library.
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The BMRC's Curated Topics list is designed to help remedy the pervasive invisibility of primary source material documenting Black history and culture. In development now, it will be a special vocabulary that concisely encapsulates the subject domain. If you'd like to be a part of developing this resource, email the Project Archivist at email@example.com and let us know how you'd like to contribute.