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Women in the Black Panthers: Building or Departing from Traditions of Activism in the Freedom Struggle
AuthorTrounson, Carla Louise
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This thesis examines the role of African American women activists in the BlackPanther Party by placing their activism in the broader historical context of blackwomen in the freedom struggle. This thesis sheds light on the continuities anddepartures from earlier work that characterized black women’s activism and theBlack Panther Party as a whole, by analyzing how their experiences, ideologies,and activism compared with those of earlier women activists who lived duringSlavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights eras. My thesis examines how women, asactivists, pushed past boundaries of gender, and helped to broaden the meaningof freedom. Activists like those who joined the Black Panther Party understoodthat there was much more work to be done before African Americans were trulyfree and equal to white people. Included in my analysis are black women'ʹsexperiences of sexual abuse and rape, which was used to keep blacks in theirplace and enforce white supremacy, but which spurred activism. Many womenin the Black Panther Party were activists in the civil rights movement, and theyturned to the Black Panther Party because they saw a chance to serve and shape anew black community. They expanded the roles of women as leaders andrevolutionaries in the continuing struggle against racism and poverty, as well asfor freedom and self-‐‑determination.