Remembering the Fearless Women of Color Who Paved the Way for Roe v. Wade

By Bianca Campbell, Organizer, SPARK

In order to honor the achievements of Roe v. Wade, it is necessary to explore the contributions of vivacious, fearless women of color in the South. Civil Rights leaders like Coretta Scott King, Ella Baker, Dorothy Irene Height and Fannie Lou Hamer not only believed but exercised their belief that we are capable of making critical, personal, and just decisions about our bodies, our families, and our communities even under the most hostile social, political, and economic circumstances. It is in their tradition that the reproductive justice movement is rooted, and it is in their legacies that we renounce all attempts to vilify and shame the agency, power, and morality of Black women and all chosen families.

Our work will not be complete until women are able to make choices about their reproductive health that they feel is best for their bodies without shame or judgment; until incarcerated women can birth in dignity and without shackles; until queer and trans* people can feel safe walking down the street regardless of their expression or appearance; until queer families can visit their children in hospitals and be recognized as legal guardians; until young parents feel supported and empowered in raising their children!

To realize this vision of true, unmitigated choice over our families and our bodies, we must fight for proactive legislation that recognizes our humanities and educate not only our legislators, but our neighbors. We must organize for both the immediate threats to our communities as well as long-term, systemic cultural change. As we fight against the attacks on Roe v. Wade, we must advocate beyond abortion and contraceptive access. We must recognize the complexity and intersectionality of all the people who struggle with us. We have the people, the power, and the brilliance to make lasting change for our communities.

And so, on this historic day, we celebrate the visionaries who have come before us and the access that Roe v. Wade has brought to our communities while recognizing that there is much left to do.

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