Black Civil Rights and the Women’s Movement: They Changed America

February 25, 2013

African-American women and the primarily white women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s
This final week of February marks the end of this year’s commemoration of Black History Month and segues into Women’s History Month, beginning this Friday, March 1. So I thought you might like to view this 3-minute video clip from the three-hour documentary, Makers: Women Who Make America, airing on most PBS stations tomorrow night, February 26. This particular clip shows that the emerging women’s movement of the 1960s, spurred on by the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, was primarily a middle-class white women’s movement at the time. Thus, many African American women struggled with how to regard the movement or what their part should be—especially in view of the racial discrimination and limited opportunities for black people in the economic opportunity system in the United States.  Did the women’s movement include them, and if so, how?  But participation in the civil rights movement helped build bonds of sisterhood and respect between many African American and white women—especially younger women—where they gained a new vision of working together for both racial and gender equity.

Take a minute to mark your calendar and plan to watch the entire documentary tomorrow night, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. Check your local station for the time. Meanwhile, here’s a short preview of Makers: Women Who Make America. It’s a joint project of PBS and AOL.  Don’t miss it!

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.