Robyn C. Spencer is a historian who specializes in Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. She is a tenured Associate Professor at Lehman College, CUNY. Spencer is the author of The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland (2016). She is co-founder of the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project and has written widely on gender and Black Power. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Women’s History and Souls as well as The Washington Post, Vibe Magazine, Colorlines, and Truthout. She has received awards for her work from the Mellon foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Association of Black Women Historians. In 2020-2021, Spencer was in residence at the Institute of Advanced Study in the school of Social Science finishing her second book project on Black protest against the American war in Vietnam. She is working on biographies of two radical women: Angela Davis and Patricia Robinson.
This lecture analyzes the political crosscurrents between the New Left, the feminist movement, and the Black Freedom movement to excavate the pivotal role Black women played as thinkers and activists. The Black Panther Party, one of the most influential Black Power organizations, will be closely examined as a case study of the dialectic between gender and organizational development. The Black Panthers created community programs helmed by women, faced political repression, disseminated radical ideas and changed the political landscape of radicalism in the US.