feminism, race, transnationalism

Volume 18, Number 1

“Making Democracy Real”

African American Women, Birth Control, and Social Justice

This website offers a historical overview of African American women’s efforts to gain access to contraception in the first half of the twentieth century. With embedded archival documents providing evidence of the many parties involved in the politics of sexual and reproductive health and rights through those decades, the birth control struggle becomes a window on racial, gender, and economic obstacles black women negotiated in pursuit of bodily autonomy. Taking us back a century, and with emphasis on agency and resilience, the story connects us with the deep roots and broad vision of black women’s leadership in what has become a women-of-color-led human rights movement for reproductive justice today.

—Joyce C. Follet

Dr. Dorothy Ferebee draws a blood sample at a mobile clinic in Mississippi where Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority members incorporated birth control information into basic health care they provided periodically for tenant farmers and sharecroppers, 1938. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Health Committee. Miscellaneous Organizations, Sophia Smith Collection.

Click HERE to explore the “Making Democracy Real” website.