Women of Color: The Power of Protest

Women of Color: The Power of Protest


Women of Color: The Power of Protest is a series of three panel discussions that will draw attention to activism and social justice through the lens of historic and contemporary women of color. This collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of African Art, and the National Museum of the American Indian takes Smithsonian Institution collections and exhibitions as starting points for conversations about the socio-political challenges that women of color have confronted and overcome, and which they continue to revolutionize. By paying tribute to women who paved the way for socio-political change, both past and present, this dynamic series interlaces activism, intersectional identity, and visual culture.

By paying tribute to women who paved the way for socio-political change, both past and present, this dynamic series interlaces activism, intersectional identity, and visual culture. Featuring contemporary activists, artists, scholars, and writers, Women of Color: The Power of Protest will take place at the National Portrait Gallery’s McEvoy Auditorium.

This three-part series received support the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. For more information on the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story,” visit womenshistory.si.edu. 

September 12: But Some of Us are Brave: Black Sisterhood and Solidarity Across Cultures

The National Museum of African Art opens the first of three panels in Women of Color: The Power of Protest with the panel— But Some of Us are Brave: Black Sisterhood and Solidarity Across Cultures. Panelists address concepts of sisterhood and solidarity as sources of power across cultures, communities, and color lines. The panel emphasizes that the African Diaspora is comprised of multiple complex communities. Drawing from historical figures within these communities, the panelists will discuss specific examples of (s)heroism and their implications for our time.

October 10: Native American Women Activists: Resistance, Resilience, and Passing the Torch

The National Museum of the American Indian hosts the second of three events in Women of Color: The Power of Protest with the panel— Native American Women Activists: Resistance, Resilience, and Passing the Torch. The discussion will examine Native American Women activism and their legacy. The NMAI panel will discuss how Native American women such as Zitkala-Ša and Susette LaFlesche Tibbles have used their voice for change and how Native women continue today. The program will also address how Native American Women maintain self-identity in a world where established power structures hinder their sovereignty.

November 14Ain’t I A Woman: Activism, Legacy and Our Quest for Justice

The National Portrait Gallery presents the final of three lectures in Women of Color: The Power of Protest with the panel—Ain’t I A Woman: Activism, Legacy and Our Quest for Justice. The program will re-insert the historical narrative of African American women’s voices as a vehicle of protest in American history and feature contemporary activists, cultural critics, scholars, and writers. Some of the themes that will be explored are intersectional identity and critical race theory as it pertains to the four waves of feminism. The first wave–the suffrage movement will be the starting point, but will continue through the fourth wave. Iconic African American women such as Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell and other black women who have fought arduously for equality and social justice; not only for women, but for their race will be illuminated. Historical Revisionism as a vital means in chronicling our nation’s history as it relates to identity and socio-political empowerment of African American women will be examined and discussed.

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Image Credit (left to right): Zitkala-Ša (detail) by Joseph T. Keiley, photogravure, 1898 (printed 1901). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Wedding Souvenirs (detail) by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, acrylic, colored pencil, collage, and commemorative fabric on paper, 2016; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. Sojourner Truth (detail) by Randall Studio, albumen silver.