UCLA: Crenshaw Honored by New York Women’s Foundation

May 14, 2018 - UCLA Law School of Law Distinguished Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a pioneer of critical race theory and leading authority on civil rights and Black feminist legal thought, was honored on May 10 with the Celebrating Women Award from the New York Women's Foundation.

The award acknowledges Crenshaw's enduring contributions to social justice and equality and is given to "a woman whose significant achievements have influenced the lives of—and provided a role model for—women and girls," according to the foundation.

In the 1980s, Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality" to describe the exclusion of Black women from feminist theory and policy discourse directed against racism, and her scholarship in the area has been extraordinarily influential. In 2015, Crenshaw launched the #SayHerName campaign, which calls attention to police violence against Black women and advocates for police accountability.

At the awards breakfast at the Marriott Marquis in New York, Rhanda Dormeus, whose adult daughter Korryn Gaines was killed by police during a standoff in Maryland in 2016, thanked Crenshaw "for the support she has given us and for the platform she created. …. Kimberle has witnessed our deepest pain. She has become a rock for many of us. I know many of the mothers in this movement feel the same way about her. We consider her family."

Playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler introduced Crenshaw, calling her "a dear colleague, sister comrade, troublemaker and friend."

"She is an extraordinary intellectual and a woman who puts her life on the line for others," Ensler said. "We honor and celebrate Kim for the depth, generosity and radical radiance of her attention.

Crenshaw is on the faculty at both UCLA Law and Columbia Law School, and is the founder and director of Columbia's Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. She is also co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, a think tank that promotes efforts to dismantle structural inequality.

The Celebrating Women Award is the most recent in a long line of honors recognizing Crenshaw's work. In 2017, she received the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize from Brandeis University for enduring scholarly contributions to racial relations. In 2016, Crenshaw received the Outstanding Scholar Award from the American Bar Foundation and the Exceptional Merit in Media Award (EMMA) for her New York Times op-ed, "The Girls Obama Forgot." She also received an honorary doctorate from City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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(Essence) Her Dream Deferred: Black Women Convene In D.C. To Explore Our Status In America



Apr, 02, 2018

On a weeknight inside Google’s high tech offices in the nation’s capital, a few dozen women and girls assembled to explore the legacy of Harriet Tubman and its impact on contemporary African American women.

Yet this wasn’t a traditional lecture about the famed abolitionist, Civil War nurse, union spy, and suffragist. Instead, the women danced to live African drumming, sang spirituals, did meditative exercises, and enjoyed a dramatic performance—all part of an event dubbed “Recovering Harriet: An Interactive Evening of Arts and Action.”

The event was hosted by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), a think tank founded in 1996 that works to bring new voices and a broader framework to social justice issues and practices in the U.S.  Among its campaigns is #SayHerName, which aims to draw attention to African American women subjected to police violence.

The organization, based in New York City, recently convened “Her Dream Deferred: A Week on the Status of Black Women and Girls.” Now in its fourth year, the annual series took place last week in Washington, D.C.  

Using the lens of artistic expression and intellectual dialogue, the programming addressed a number of issues facing Black women today. They ranged from sexual harassment and policing, to the education of Black girls and systemic challenges pushing them out of school, to issues affecting Black women veterans, and more.

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a Harvard-trained lawyer who co-founded AAPF and serves as its executive director, says it’s time for the nation to hear and acknowledge the unique history of African American women in America.

“Black women’s intersectional experiences of racism and sexism have long been forgotten,” said Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University known for the development of intersectional theory. “We must begin to tell Black women’s stories, because without them we cannot tell the story of Black men, White men, White women or anyone else in this country. The story of Black women is critical because those who don’t know their history, are doomed to repeat it.”

The conference series kicked off with #SayHerName: An Activist Happy Hour’ held at Busboys and Poets, a D.C. restaurant chain. The series concluded with a forum titled “From Birth Control to Death: Facing Black Women’s Maternal Mortality.” Public health experts and reproductive justice leaders assembled to address the disproportionate rate at which Black women die during pregnancy and childbirth. 

Another highlight of the conference was “Harriet’s Daughters: An Evening of Conversation and Celebration” held at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Guests gathered onsite in the Oprah Winfrey Theater for a panel discussion (with attorney Barbara Arnwine, artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Samantha Masters) that explored Tubman’s role in history beyond The Underground Railroad. The event included the performance of an original play that Crenshaw penned about the freedom fighter.

Beyond the multigenerational audience it drew last week, AAPF also garnered support from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Senators’ Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have been allies as the organization pushes for African American women to be acknowledged with a special week during Women’s History Month, held annually each March.

Recently, Harris addressed colleagues, urging that “the U.S. government officially recognize the last week in March as the Week on the Status of Black Women.” “Black women have long gone above and beyond the call of duty in their contributions to American civic society, particularly when it comes to voter turnout and political participation,” said Harris, whose remarks were entered in the Congressional Record.

“Even in the face of grave oppression dating back to our nation’s origins, Black women have continued to stand strong and contribute to the well-being of families, communities, the economy, and our country as a whole.”


Still, challenges and barriers to full inclusion and equality for African American women remain.

Black women are disproportionately subject to compromising health conditions, such as poor-quality environments in impoverished neighborhoods, food deserts, and lack of access to basic health care, Harris noted.

Moreover, single Black women’s median wealth is just $100 dollars, while single white women have a median wealth of $41,000, she said. Around half of single Black women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debt equals or exceeds their assets. And on average, Black women workers are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location.

Harris further added that Black women, especially trans Black women, are “exceptionally vulnerable to violence, both at the hands of the state and at the hands of intimate partners,” but are often ignored or not believed when they speak up. “On all these fronts, we can and must do better,” the Senator said. “And we will.”

In conjunction with the Congressional declaration, Harris’ office said it has partnered with several organizations who are advocating for the well-being of women and communities of color. Besides AAPF, they include the Center for Intersectionality & Social Policy Studies housed at Columbia University, the Transformative Justice Coalition, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, and V-Day.

ESSENCE: What We Want: Black Women Are Setting Their Policy Agenda For 2018

DONNA M. OWENS Dec, 19, 2017

Niya Kenny had never visited Capitol Hill until last week, yet the millennial found a welcoming space of sisterhood in which to share her story during a Congressional roundtable focused on Black women and girls.

“Leading from the Black: How Black Women Lead Even When Ignored,” was hosted by the year-old Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls, in tandem with the Democratic Women’s Working Group, and the African American Policy Forum. The packed Dec. 13 event, open to the public, drew a multigenerational crowd, who had the ear of African American women lawmakers during the listening session.

Among the guests was 20-year-old Kenny, who gained national attention following a widely publicized police incident back in 2015 at a Columbia, South Carolina high school.

On the viral video, a White deputy was shown yanking a Black student from her desk and tossing the teen across the room following a classroom dispute with a teacher. Kenny protested the officer’s aggressive manner towards her classmate and filmed the drama on her cell phone as it unfolded. She was arrested soon-after.

“I sat in handcuffs for an hour and was taken to an adult jail,” the young woman tearfully told the attendees of the forum.

Kenny and her classmate were both charged under South Carolina's “disturbing schools” law which criminalizes such behavior as loitering or acting “obnoxious.” In 2016, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit (Kenny is the lead plaintiff) related to the statute, which has reportedly impacted thousands of Black youth in the state, some in elementary school.

In March, a federal judge dismissed the case, but lawyers are appealing.

Kenny left school and later earned her G.E.D. While the charges were dropped, there’s lingering trauma even as she rebuilds her life. “I’m thinking about going to college, maybe an HBCU,” she told ESSENCE, “but sometimes just the thought of being back in a classroom scares me.”


Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), who co-chairs the Black Women & Girls caucus with Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), said they convened the event to hear such stories and take steps to address the issues behind them.

“Black women have long been on the forefront of change and progress in this country,” said Watson Coleman. “Sadly, we are so often left on the sidelines of critical discussions and policymaking that disparately impacts us and the communities we support.”

The wide-ranging dialogue — moderated by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor and executive director of the African American Policy Forum in New York — explored a range of topics. They ran the gamut from Black women’s health care access, to the #MeToo Movement around sexual harassment and the history of assaults on Black women’s bodies dating back to slavery.

The panel included several legal minds: Barbara Arnwine, attorney and president of the Transformative Justice Coalition; Tanya Clay House, an attorney and consultant who formerly served in the U.S. Department of Education; and Ifeoma Ike, attorney and a co-founder of the #SheWoke Committee, whose advocacy helped lead to the creation of the caucus on Black women and girls. Rounding out the group of experts were activists and advocates: Janaye Ingram, who oversaw logistics for the Women’s March, and Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, Editor-in-Chief of Black Women in the U.S. 2017, a report released in tandem with the Black Women's Roundtable. 

There was also discussion of the key role that African American women voters played in Democrats’ winning a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama this month, and the importance of carving out a collective policy agenda for the midterms and 2020 presidential election.

To that end, Rev. Leah Daughtry (who served as CEO of the 2016 DNC Convention Committee) told those assembled about plans for the inaugural Power Rising Summit, a Black women’s conclave slated for February 2018 in Atlanta. “It’s time for us to have our own convention,” she said.  

The event closed with the other lawmakers present – among them, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)—vowing with the caucus to commit themselves to minimizing and eliminating barriers for Black women and girls.

“I’m already thinking about future legislation,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee.

Kimberle Crenshaw Receives Gittler Award from Brandeis University

Kimberlé Crenshaw Explains The Power Of Intersectional Feminism In 1 Minute

“Different things make different women vulnerable,” Crenshaw, a scholar and advocate, said Friday.

By Hayley Miller 08/11/2017 03:45 pm ET

It took Kimberlé Crenshaw, an esteemed civil rights advocate and law professor, about 60 seconds to lay out the importance of “intersectional feminism” on Friday ― and the internet could not get enough of it.

Intersectional feminism examines the overlapping systems of oppression and discrimination that women face, based not just on gender but on ethnicity, sexuality, economic background and a number of other axes.

Crenshaw introduced the concept of “intersectionality” to feminist theory nearly 30 years ago in a seminal paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum, describing the “intersectional experience” as something “greater than the sum of racism and sexism.” 

On Friday, during a panel discussion at the annual Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, she gave a gloss on intersectionality in a way that made clear the immense value of the concept.

“There are many, many different kinds of intersectional exclusions ― not just black women, but other women of color,” Crenshaw said. “Not just people of color, but people with disabilities. Immigrants. LGBTQ people. Indigenous people.”

“The way we imagine discrimination or disempowerment often is more complicated for people who are subjected to multiple forms of exclusion,” she continued. “The good news is that intersectionality provides us a way to see it.”

Crenshaw noted some of the ways in which intersectional feminism helps activists advocate for women of all backgrounds and identities.

“When we advocate for violence against women to be eliminated on campuses, we say, ‘Well, actually, it’s not just on campuses we have to worry about.’ We might have to worry about high schools,” Crenshaw said. “We might have to worry about police precincts and cars. We might have to worry about public housing.”

“We might have to broaden our scope of how we think about where women are vulnerable,” she added, “because different things make different women vulnerable.”

Supporters on Twitter were quick to praise Crenshaw’s words of wisdom: