Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around

Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith

Edited by Alethia Jones & Virginia Eubanks
With Barbara Smith

Subjects: Women's Studies, Feminist, African American Studies, New York/regional, Politics
Series: SUNY series in New Political Science
Paperback : 9781438451145, 354 pages, November 2014
Hardcover : 9781438451152, 354 pages, November 2014

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley
Preface by Barbara Smith
1. Chronicling an Activist Life
Virginia Eubanks and Alethia Jones
2. Home Grown: Early Roots of Activism
Roots of Beloved Community
Barbara Smith, “Interview by Loretta Ross,” Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith and Ross 2003)
Interview with Barbara Ransby
“Klunder, Bruce W.,” The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1997)
Interview with Barbara Ransby
College Life and Activism
Barbara Smith, “Interview by Loretta Ross,” Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith and Ross 2003)
Interviews with Barbara Ransby, Matt Richardson, and Alethia Jones
What Would It Mean to Be a Lesbian?
Barbara Smith, “Interview by Loretta Ross,” Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith and Ross 2003)
“Taking the Home Out of Homophobia: Black Lesbian Health,” Jewelle Gomez and Barbara Smith (1990)
Barbara Smith, “Interview by Loretta Ross,” Voices of Feminism Oral History Project (Smith and Ross 2003)
3. Building Black Feminism
A New Era of Black Feminism
Interview with Virginia Eubanks
National Black Feminist Organization Statement of Purpose, National Black Feminist Organization (1973)
The Combahee River Collective Statement, Combahee River Collective ([1977], 1979)
Interviews with Kimberly Springer, Barbara Ransby, Alethia Jones, and Virginia Eubanks
Black Feminist Organizing Tactics
“Black Feminism: A Movement of Our Own,” Barbara Smith ([1984], 1997)
“Who Is Killing Us,” Terrion Williamson (2012)
Interview with Kimberly Springer
Building Linkages across Difference
“Face-to-Face, Day-to-Day—Racism CR [Consciousness Raising] Guidelines for Women’s Groups,” Tia Cross, Freada Klein, Barbara Smith, and Beverly Smith (1979)
“Breaking the Silence: A Conversation in Black and White,” Laura Sperazi (1978)
Interview with Virginia Eubanks
Unfinished Business
“Establishing Black Feminism,” Barbara Smith (2000)
“African American Women in Defense of Ourselves,” Elsa Barkley Brown, Deborah K. King, and Barbara Ransby
“Black Women Still in Defense of Ourselves,” Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (2011)
Interviews with Kimberly Springer, Virginia Eubanks, and Alethia Jones
4. Building Black Women’s Studies
More Than Academic
“Doing Research on Black American Women, or; All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave,” Barbara Smith (1975)
“The Politics of Black Women’s Studies,” Gloria Hull and Barbara Smith (1982)
“‘Beautiful, Needed, Mysterious’: Review of Sala by Toni Morrison,” Barbara Smith (1974)
Interview with Beverly Guy-Sheftall
“Irrevocable Acts”: Navigating Dangerous Waters
“Black Women Writers and Feminism: Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” (Bowles 1979)
“Black Women Writers and Feminism Questions & Answer Session” (Bowles 1979)
Interview with Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Truth Telling in the Academy
“Racism and Women’s Studies,” Barbara Smith (1980)
Interview with Virginia Eubanks
5. Building Kitchen Table Press
Black in Print
“Black Women and Publishing,” Modern Language Association Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession (1976)
“Our Stories: Women of Color,” Barbara Smith (1984)
Interview with Matt Richardson
Our Books Were Lifelines
“A Press of Our Own: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press,” Barbara Smith (1989)
Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press titles 1983-1992
The Freedom Organizing pamphlet series
Interviews with Matt Richardson, Barbara Ransby, and Kimberly Springer
The Cost of Independence
“Packing Boxes and Editing Manuscripts: Women of Color in Feminist Publishing,” Sojourner Editorial Collective (1993)
Interview with Matt Richardson
6. Building Mutli-Issue Movements
Forging Coalitions: Fighting Homophobia, Racism, and Classism
“Soul on Hold,” Barbara Smith (1985)
“Blacks and Gays: Healing the Great Divide,” Barbara Smith (1993)
“Where Has Gay Liberation Gone? An Interview with Barbara Smith,” Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed (1997)
“Will People of Color Pay the Price? A Statement by People of Color in Support of the Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process,” Ted Beck, Mandy Carter, Chandra L. Ford, Kara Keeling, and Barbara Smith (1999)
“Organizing in Albany: Justice for Diallo,” Barbara Smith (2000)
Interviews with Joo-Hyun Kang and Kimberly Springer
“Please Don’t Fan Flames of Bigotry,” Barbara Smith (2011)
“It’s a Diverse World, and That Includes Sexuality,” Barbara Smith (2011)
“A New LGBT Politics Seeks to Marry Issues, Not Just People,” Jamilah King (2012)
Embraced by the Black Radical Congress
“The Struggle Continues: Setting a Black Liberation Agenda for the 21st Century: Call for Participation in the Black Radical Congress,” BRC Organizing Committee (1998)
“Black Radical Congress Principles of Unity,” BRC Organizing Committee (1998)
“Dialogue between Barbara Smith and Kimberly Springer,” Democracy Now! (1998)
Interviews with Barbara Ransby and Alethia Jones
7. Building Progressive Urban Politics
A Movement Builder on the Campaign Trail
“Black Feminist Activism: My Next Chapter,” Barbara Smith (2012)
Interviews with Vera “Mike” Michelson and Joo-Hyun Kang
In the Belly of the Beast
Interviews with Vera “Mike” Michelson, Alethia Jones, Barbara Ransby, and Virginia Eubanks
Flyer for Albany Neighborhoods First
“WAMC Commentary on Gun Violence,” Barbara Smith, July 21, 2008
SNUG rally flyer
“WAMC Commentary on Education,” Barbara Smith, November 6, 2008
Radical Visions versus Reformist Institutions
Interviews with Vera “Mike” Michelson, Virginia Eubanks, and Alethia Jones
Peace and Unity Resolution
Immigrant Rights Resolution
8. “Took Root, Bore Fruit”: Legacies and Futures of Black Feminist Life
Sheroes and Foremothers
Interview with Alexis Pauline Gumbs
University of Alabama letter from Robin Boylorn
Ella’s Daughters’ Seven Sisters Campaign, Ella’s Daughters (n.d.)
The Legacy of Kitchen Table Press and Black Women’s Studies
Interview with Alexis Pauline Gumbs
University of Alabama letter from Lisa C. Moore
University of Alabama letter from Sheri-Davis Faulkner
The Legacy of Combahee: Identity Politics and Interlocking Oppressions
Interview with Alexis Pauline Gumbs (2010)
“What Sistas Want, What Sistas Believe: Black Feminist Twelve Point Plan,” Black Feminist Working Group (2011)
Interviews with Virginia Eubanks and Alethia Jones
The Legacy of Combahee’s Organizing: Coalitions for Conscious Collective Solutions
Interview with Alexis Pauline Gumbs
UBUNTU Statement of Purpose
“Occupy Wall Street: Black Voices for Economic Justice Must Be Heard,” Ron Daniels (n.d.)
Black Feminist Futures
Interviews with Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Alethia Jones, and Virginia Eubanks
“Crunk Letter to Patriarchy,” Crunk Feminist Collective (2012)
Editorial Note
How We Built This Book
Interviews Commissioned for This Volume
Interviewer and Contributor Biographies

Reveals a remarkable woman’s life and her contributions to social justice movements related to Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism.


Silver Winner, 2014 ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year Award in the Women's Studies Category
2015 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Memoir/Biography presented by the Lambda Literary Foundation
2015 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction presented by the Publishing Triangle

As an organizer, writer, publisher, scholar-activist, and elected official, Barbara Smith has played key roles in multiple social justice movements, including Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism. Her four decades of grassroots activism forged collaborations that introduced the idea that oppression must be fought on a variety of fronts simultaneously, including gender, race, class, and sexuality. By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, this book uncovers the deep roots of today's "identity politics" and "intersectionality" and serves as an essential primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.

Alethia Jones is Director of Education and Leadership Development at 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. Virginia Eubanks is Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York and author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age. Barbara Smith is Public Service Professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She served two terms as a member of the City of Albany's Common Council, and is the author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom.


"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around creatively utilizes roughly two hundred publications, and interviews spanning forty years, to successfully explore the roots and fruits of Smith's activism and intellect … As African American bodies continue to come under attack across the United States with inadequate consequences and news coverage, [this book] is urgent reading because it clarifies our understanding of interlocking systems of oppression, the many types of violence they generate, and the need to fight against them." — Journal of African American History

"…a wonderful read on solidarity, resistance, and outsider politics." — The Advocate

"…Barbara Smith is everything. So is this book … [it] challenges us all to dig deeper in our work and never stop pursuing actual, authentic liberation." — Autostraddle

"In a clear, accessible, and conversational style, the book engages readers in fundamental questions that those committed to social justice must grapple with in order to deepen their work and heighten their integrity, accountability, and courage." — EDGE Boston

"As a black lesbian feminist, activist, scholar, and elected official, Barbara Smith has been speaking truth to power for four decades. This extensive collection of writings and interviews portrays one indomitable woman and many invaluable movements." — Chronogram

"Barbara Smith has played a groundbreaking role in opening and expanding our national cultural and political dialogues about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around … brings to life the controversies, players and strategies that expanded the definitions of freedom and liberation over four decades." — Seattle Lesbian

"...a massive and important work … This will be an important book for students of the Civil Rights movement, but also for those who want to know what it takes to build movements, and movements that last." — San Francisco Book Review

"Barbara Smith is a creator of modern feminism as a writer, organizer, editor, publisher, and scholar. Now she has added to her decades as an activist outside the system by becoming an elected official who truly listens, represents, and creates bridges to a common good. She has shown us that democracy is a seed that can only be planted where we are." — Gloria Steinem

"Barbara Smith is one of the grand pioneering and prophetic voices of our time. Her truth still hurts and heals!" — Cornel West

"Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around is not a memoir, a biography, nor a reader. It is a reflection and a conversation. It is also a montage of forty years of documents, interviews, and articles that provide useful lessons for social justice work. This book is a tour de force that documents the life's work of Barbara Smith and the freedom struggles she shaped." — Duchess Harris, author of Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Obama