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Title: Black and native American women's activism in the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement
Author: Castle, E. A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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The transition of activism in the late 1960s from a non-violent, citizenship-based appeal for Civil Rights to a Nationalist, potentially violent call for revolution, marked a shift to a more radical and confrontational politics of social change. Hidden in this history are the narratives of women’s participation which dramatically revise the current historical record in these ground-breaking social movements. During this period, women and men organised for social change, often around identity-based issues, and challenged the status quo. This work examines two organisations which emerged in the late sixties as vanguards of an era defined by the self-determined chants of ‘black and red power’, a time of social and political rebellion against the leaders of the waning Civil Rights movement and an increasingly repressive government. This thesis seeks to foreground the hitherto unknown involvement of women in male-identified organisations such as the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. It will highlight previously untold stories of key women activists in these two organisations. Not only will it demonstrate that women comprised a majority of the participants, but also that they performed all manner of functions ranging from high-level negotiations to meal preparation. Contemporary coverage of both organisations in the media obscured such involvement. The majority of the groups that defined themselves as revolutionary or radical were unable to deal with issues of gender inequality within their ranks. Many of these groups espoused a rhetorical philosophy of equality yet they were frequently unable to match such ideals in practice. This was certainly the case for the BPP and AIM. By equating liberation with manhood, women in these groups found themselves not only struggling for the cause but also competing with oppressive notions of masculinity. Women’s liberationists failed to offer any common cause, focusing on race-specific issues and advocating the separation of sexes which alienated women of color.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available