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2012 | 2013

[February 2013]

Smith College Activist-in-Residence

Loretta J. Ross

Loretta Ross is a bold thinker, grassroots organizer, and leader of national and international movements for racial and economic justice and women's rights. She is an expert on the politics of women's health, hate groups, and sexual violence. Ross brings a human rights approach to her activism and her writing. She has served most recently as co-founder and national director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

As Activist-in-Residence during the month of February 2013, Loretta Ross offered a series of workshops to the Smith community. Three of these workshops were filmed and are now available online (for on-campus viewing only).

Loretta Ross


  • Wed., Feb. 13: Appropriate Whiteness: Being an Individual Ally to Women of Color
  • Mon., Feb. 18: Empowering Women of Color in Feminist Organizations
  • Wed., Feb. 20: Violences Against Women
  • Mon., Feb. 25: Understanding and Applying Human Rights Principles in Social Justice Work

Ross' residency was made possible by support from Project on Women and Social Change, Sophia Smith Collection, Government Department, Smith College Lecture Committee, Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity, Program for the Study of Women and Gender. For more information see Smith College News.

More on Loretta Ross:

A Celebration in honor of Sherrill Redmon,
Director of the Sophia Smith Collection, 1993-2012

Streaming video of entire event now available!!

View event schedule
Alison Bechdel
Marianne Bullock
Katsi Cook
Jennifer Guglielmo
Anna Holley
Loretta Ross
Gloria Steinem
Susan Van Dyne

Sunday, February 3, 2013
3-9 p.m.

View Event Schedule

[January 2013]

Gerda Lerner (1920-2013)

Gerda Lerner, who died on January 2nd, knew from her own experience that women had a history even though her teachers in graduate school insisted it wasn't so, and if there was a history she would never find documents to prove it. "This is garbage; this is not the world in which I have lived" she said in a 1993 Chicago Tribune interview. Like Eleanor Flexner, author of a classic history of the women's suffrage movement, one of the places Lerner found her sources was the SSC. Founded in 1942, the SSC had been gathering the stuff of women's history for over two decades. Lerner recounted her and Flexner's pioneering forays into the research and writing of women's history to Nancy MacLean in this excerpt from her 2003 interview for the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project.

Gerda Lerner
Gerda Lerner, undated. From Women's Agenda (Mar/Apr, 1979, page 5)

MacLEAN: So just hearing you talk about this - you know, Sojourner Truth, the Lowell Mill Girls - what do you think of this idea that seems to be out there among many young women historians, now among graduate students, that women's history ignored race and class in the early years and didn't even pick up these issues until the 80s and 90s?...Is that the way you remember it?

LERNER: No, they're wrong. They're wrong. They're wrong. [Emphatic]. You can say that only if you ignore the women of the left. But the women of the left were very important. I mean all you have to do is open Eleanor Flexner's book. It paid a lot of attention to black women. And everything I wrote in that period had black women in it. And there were others, you know. I mean it just wasn't true.

MacLEAN: Did you know Eleanor Flexner?

LERNER: Yeah, I knew Eleanor Flexner.

MacLEAN: In the early years, you know, before she published Century of Struggle?

LERNER: No. No, I knew her through that book. I contacted her when I came to Smith to do my research. And she was living there.

MacLEAN: We read that in your women's history class in my first year at graduate school here. It's a great book. I mean, it's still a good read today….

LERNER: Yeah, it was. It was very important. And so I looked her up and then we had contact, quite intimate contact, for a number of years. But she was a very difficult person. And again, if you silence the witnesses and you silence the people who did what you say nobody did, then of course you end up with a distorted picture. But it's just not true.

MacLEAN: But somehow there's this notion that people marched in step, in cohorts, where everybody thought the same way, and there weren't arguments about these things, which [is] ridiculous.

LERNER: Ridiculous. I mean Eleanor -

MacLEAN: There is a letter from you to Betty Friedan in her papers …saying, Very nice book you wrote but where are the trade union women and black women?

Read the full transcript

For older news stories:

bullet   View PDF versions of the SSC's former newsletter, Imposing Evidence

bullet   Read selected articles (1998 to 2004) from past newsletters


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