Signatory Answers in WordArt

Our Voices

Our Voices is a regular series to highlight and amplify the voices of the signatories to the 1991 African American Women in Defense of Ourselves media campaign.  Today, we decided to look at signatory answers to one of the questions in our Sisters Testify survey.  

What did you hope to achieve by contributing to the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves proclamation?

The words we used

I created the word cloud at the top of this page by inputting the raw answers to this question into WordArt.com’s word art creator.  I wasn’t surprised to see Anita Hill’s name pop off the page.  Many recalled wanting her to know that she was not alone, and that she was believed.  Others wanted to raise the issue of sexual harassment, rape and workplace violence and sexual stereotypes and treatment of black women.

I was moved, however, to see the words “Voice” and “Heard” show up — over and over again.  In fact, many answers had identical phrasing.

“I hoped that our voices would be heard.”

“Have our voices heard.”

“I hoped to have African American voices heard”. 

“I hoped to have our collective voices heard.”

“I wanted the voices of African American women to be heard loudly and clearly.”

Signatories expressed this theme using other words, too.

“. . .let the nation and world know. . .”

“. . .let the general public know. . .”

“. . . advise Americans. . .”

Solidarity was another common theme, the desire to be part of a movement of black women organizing not only at the time but also at other points in history.

 In your words; excerpts from your answers and emails

“AWIDOO was a media campaign launched by Barbara Ransby, Elsa Barkley Brown and Deborah King, in 1991 to support Anita Hill, a sexual harassment survivor, who testified against Supreme Court nominee (at the time) Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The group placed a collective statement in the New York Times and several African American newspapers to express its views. It included over 1600 African American women across the country, and existed as a political network for nearly five years after the hearings.” — Barbara Ransby

To show that not all black women supported Clarence Thomas because he was “a brotha” yet. . .

“To show that not all black women supported Clarence Thomas because he was “a brotha” yet as a black feminist was uncomfortable with the way the arguments against Thomas were framed in a stereotypical way again black men. I felt it (the ad) dealt with our intersectionality before such a word existed.” — Anonymous

I hoped to anchor myself in a tangible act of historical & cultural significance.

“I hoped to anchor myself in a tangible act of historical & cultural significance. I wanted to fortify the spirits of other African American women who were doing this difficult, essential work. I wanted to send a message to Anita Hill that we heard, recognized, believed & cherished her.” — Michelle T. Clinton

I wanted to make sure that as a woman of color my voice was heard.

“I wanted to make sure that as a woman of color my voice was heard. I also wanted to pay homage to our early sister ancestors who spoke in defense of our names against the likes of James Jacks and others who disparaged black women. As a new graduate student, I and other grad students, drove to Boston to attend the first *Black Women in the Academy: Defending Our Name 1894-1994*–the national conference focusing on black women academics held at MI) on January 13–15, 1994. We had to get there despite the snow! I was inspired beyond belief and so proud to be a part of new history-making. The experience shaped my entire academic trajectory…so many memories!” — Psyche Williams-Forson, PhD

I wanted to stop all forms of inequity in our society, especially that against the African American woman.

“I hoped to have our collective voices heard. I wanted to stop all forms of inequity in our society, especially that against the African American woman. I felt very vulnerable at that time in my life and didn’t feel safe or that anyone but other black women were invested in my safety.” — Anonymous

 

Looking for ways to stay in touch and participate?

If you’d like to add your voice to this question, or to any of the others in our survey, we’d love to hear from you.  You can also learn more about the history around Justice Marshall’s resignation, Justice Thomas’ nomination, and Professor Hill’s testimony on the Sisters Testify site.  

Here are a few other ways to stay in touch.

  • Sign up for the Sisters Testify Newsletter. This will go out two or three times a month and will contain content from our blog.
  • Complete the Sisters Testify survey. Tell us about your history with African American Women In Defense of Ourselves or about your experiences witnessing Anita Hill’s testimony.  
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • There are still a few days left to participate in the January mini-survey.

In struggle,


Photo credit:   Powered by WordArt.com, under the Free License Agreement

One comment on “Our Voices

  • I wanted the world to recognize that as a member of a Black Women’s Peer Support group in Denver,Colorado, that I affirmed her right to be free from sexual harassment/violence and stand with her!

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