Speech at Angela Davis Rally, (Undated) Unknown Location

Speech Text

[1] Well, one of the first things I like to say about this move to organize Black women, a Black women committee to free Angela Davis, a lot of people might not see the ne—necessity in fact to organize Black women, around this struggle, or to organize a separate organization for Black women. It’s not necessarily a separate organization but as we look to the movement as it’s gone now, we find that around the struggle to liberate Black people around the struggle to free all political prisoners and Angela Davis, that there’s a lack of Black women participation.

[2] I think that among a lot of the organizations—revolutionary, nationalist, whatever kind of organizations that we have now that are supposed to be in the movement—I think that a lot of people are suffering from the illusion, that there’s this myth of Black matriarchy, and that Black women have to take a back position, a back role that only kind of work that Black women can do, is like assistance work. I mean granted, secretarial work is what’s needed in the movement, but Black women have also move out and organize. It’s not that—it’s not all the men that have to take the leadership. I mean there’s a wealth of knowledge in Black women that is be—that isn’t being utilized in fact. We just relegate her to a—a subservient position, all she does is serve us coffee when we have our, our receptions, all she does is sit in the background and say “right on” when we have all these brothers out here, going through the rhetoric or rant and raving, or like talking, organizing, or even doing something constructive.

[3] And I think that there is a need to have Black women in the movement because historically—historically since we’ve been in here, in America, Black women have been the bulwark, of the liberation struggle. I mean you have Sojourner Truth, you have Harriet Tubman, you have all these women who’ve taken leadership positions, you have sister Angela Davis. It’s not like—sister Angela Davis is very capable, I mean she is capable, she’s gone out and she’s organized around prison, around the Soledad Brothers, I mean, is she a castrating female? I mean is she suffering from—did she grow up under a Black matriarchy? And she is castrating the male because she’s organizing around Soledad Brothers or because she was?

[4] I don’t think that women in fact, can accept or acquiesce to this position, and I’m not saying that Black women have to be divided against Black men. I think that Black women have to see themselves as part of the masses of Black people, which they are, and they have the right to organize, they have—and men have the obligation in fact, to—to bring Black women to—into the movement on a position to be quality.

[5] I mean we have to define the roles that Black women and Black men are going to play, are going to be relating to in the future. I mean even today, we have to define the roles. We can’t accept Moynihan’s position, that in fact there is a Black matriarchy and that this is something detrimental to the Black family, or that a Black woman is castrating and that she’s been in the leadership role too long and it’s time for the men to come out. It’s time for all of us to work together and I think that Black women whether or not they want to become part of Black men’s committee to free Angela Davis within their own organizations, they have to move to take some type of leadership position.

[6] I think that—I don’t want to say like I’m open to some women’s liberation, but I think that we do have to question the values that have been perpetrated in this society, especially in terms of male supremacy and chauvinism, and I think that a lot of Black people think that they’re not affected by these. The whole position of let’s say, monogamy and what women’s role is, where a man can have as many women as he wants. But woman has to stay chaste, she has to stay in the home, and take care of the kids and this and that and the other, you don’t want that.

[7] And the man is supposed to be the most aggressive one. He goes out and he’s supposed to be political, you don’t want the woman to get too far ahead of you. This is ridiculous. Black people—we have too much at stake for us to take this position, for women to lay back in the cut and to accept this, so that they meet or can get a man or hold a man.

[8] Black men can afford to keep Black women in this position because in terms of the struggle for Black people, it has to be a total struggle. It has to involve Black men, and Black women, it can’t be any patronizing thing where the man just leads the woman by the hand, lead her on into freedom. That’s not the way to go.

[9] Black women are part of the masses of Black people. We get into, a lot of your organizations. You have brothers taking progressive steps and saying, “yes, we do have to put women in lead—,” they have that ability. We do have to put women in leadership position, but then brothers can be very hypocritical. They can say well, “right on” to this, and “right on” to that, “I’m against shopping” and “I’m against male supremacy.” It’s—to give you an example, a revolutionary brother, comes to me and my husband and I call my husband a chauvinist, without even realizing, the intensity the struggle that we have… to try to equalize our positions so that we can both participate in the struggle, me develop as much as he develops, politically, and this brother, you ask him well, “Where is his wife?” His wife is home somewhere, she’s taking care of the kids, she can’t be in the struggle. She’s so alienated from struggle, she doesn’t even see herself as being part of the struggle. She doesn’t even see the need for the struggle… if it wasn’t any need for Black people to struggle against the position they were in.

[10] I mean I don’t see how Black women can see, if their husband is political, how they can sit back, and if he’s doing political work and he’s out in the field and he’s doing this and that and the other, get in contact with people, organizing, how she can sit back and say, well, she don’t like that because it takes him away from the home. I mean she should be out there too, she should recognize. We can’t afford to have our women—intellectual—just backwards intellectually, how can we afford that, how are we going to build in fact a nation, how are we going to, maintain, or obtain any power in society for oppressed peoples as a whole?

[11] We have to realize this position. We go out into the field, collecting, signing—getting signatures signed for Angela Davis. You come up to a couple, you say well, would you like to sign—have you signed this petition demanding bail for freedom Angela Davis? And so a sister said, “Well, who is Angela Davis?” And her brother, man, or the dude she’s with will say, “Well, you don’t know who Angela Davis is? Sure, I’ll sign it.” I mean what—doesn’t he have an obligation to tell his lover, to tell his wife, to inform his sister, his mother, doesn’t he have an obligation to bring them into the struggle around the freedom of Angela Davis, around the freedom of all political prisoners around our own political freedoms?

[12] Doesn’t he have the obligation and don’t we as women have the obligation to want to take a stride, to want to take the step, to organize, get into the movement, and work it—with men—women—I mean wit—organize, everyone? Go into the factories, go talk to these workers—domestic workers, the women in the workforce, the welfare mothers. Don’t we have an obligation, to inform these people, to bring them to the realization of the contradictions in this society? Don’t we have the obligation to free our people?

[13] I mean, do we or don’t we? I think women—I mean you really have to look at the historical role of women. You do have to realize that, women have not always taken the backseat and that men haven’t either, and that we do have talents, untapped resources in fact. And they do have to be utilized and they have to be utilized particularly around the struggle to free Angela Davis, political prisoners, and our own freedom because the fight for Angela Davis is our own fight. Thank you.