Distinguished Lecturers
Barbara Winslow

Barbara Winslow

A professor emerita at Brooklyn College, Barbara Winslow is a historian of women's activism and the founder and director emerita of the Shirley Chisholm Project of Brooklyn Women's Activism, 1945 to the Present.
She is the author, most recently, of Revolutionary Feminists: The Women's Liberation Movement in Seattle (2023); Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change (2013); Sylvia Pankhurst: Sexual Politics and Political Activism (1996); and a coeditor of Clio in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching U.S. Women's History (2009).

NEW IN 2023: Revolutionary Feminists: The Women's Liberation Movement in Seattle (Duke University Press)

OAH Lectures by Barbara Winslow

This lecture, based on Winslow's 2023 book, tells the story of the radical women's liberation movement in Seattle in the 1960s and 1970s from the perspective of a founding member. Drawing on her collection of letters, pamphlets, and photographs as well as newspaper accounts, autobiographies, and interviews, Winslow emphasizes the vital role that Black women played in the women's liberation movement to create meaningful intersectional coalitions in an overwhelmingly White city. Winslow brings the voices and visions of those she calls the movement's "ecstatic utopians" to life. She charts their short-term successes and lasting achievements, from organizing women at work and campaigning for subsidized childcare to creating women-centered rape crisis centers, health clinics, and self-defense programs. The Seattle movement was essential to winning the first popular vote in the United States to liberalize abortion laws. Despite these achievements, Winslow critiques the failure of the movement's White members to listen to Black, Latina, Indigenous, and Asian American and Pacific Islander feminist activists. Reflecting on the Seattle movement's accomplishments and shortcomings, Winslow offers a model for contemporary feminist activism.

The 2016 election was notable for being the first time a woman ran for the US presidency on a major political party. The campaign and election of Donald Trump, an unending spectacle of misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, bullying, and venal nationalistic chest thumping upended this ‘first’. As the Democratic Party candidate, trying to break ‘that highest glass ceiling,’ Hillary Clinton was subjected to endless, horrific and baseless attacks on her character, honesty, commitment to the democratic process, expectedly from the right, and surprisingly from the left. 15 years of systematic character assassination, played a major role in her electoral defeat. Clinton was not the first woman to have endured vicious racial, class and gender attacks while trying to make a presidential run. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, mounted a campaign for the Democratic nomination for the US presidency. In her career as an elected official, first in the Albany state legislature and then as the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968, she was ignored, mocked, slandered, not only by whites, but also by some African Americans, mainly men, who unfortunately internalized racist misogyny. Even with the brutal, unending misogyny of the 2016 presidential election - “Trump That Bitch,” “Hillary for Prison” - probably no other candidate has been subjected to the type of vicious gendered smear attacks, as was Chisholm. This is part of the price that confident, ambitious political women must pay, especially if and when they are to be firsts. This talk compares and contrasts the Chisholm campaign of 1972, with those of other women who have run for political office up through the 2018 election.

Women's struggle for the elective franchise began before the 1848 Seneca Falls women's rights convention, and continued after the passage of the 19th amendment which constitutionally enfranchised women in 1920. This talk will be about the ongoing struggle for women's suffrage a century before and a century after 1920.


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