Barbara Smith, organizer, scholar, and builder of Black Feminism in the United States, has been selected as a stellar woman to be part of a national campaign titled Makers: Women Who Make a Difference. A multimedia website and forthcoming documentary, sponsored by AOL and PBS, will interview women who have been key figures in the women’s movement during the past 50 years.
In 1980, Smith was cofounder and publisher of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first American publisher for women of color. She has played a groundbreaking role in opening up national cultural and political dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender.
With an M.A. in English from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed doctoral courses at the University of Connecticut, Smith has taught black literature and women’s studies at Emerson, Barnard, and Connecticut Colleges and at the Universities of Massachusetts and Minnesota. She has lectured and published widely on racial, gender, and class oppression and has edited three major collections about black women, the most recent of which was published by Rutgers University Press. She and Gloria Steinem were editors of a 700-page reference book, The Readers’ Companion to U.S. Women’s History, published in 1998 by Houghton Mifflin.
Smith has served two elected terms as a member of the Albany, New York, Common Council (city council), where she is especially active on issues of youth development, violence prevention, and educational opportunities for the poor, minority, and underserved persons. At the same time she has worked aggressively on issues of reproductive rights, rape, sterilization abuse, and prison reform. She has been a Bunting Institute Fellow at Radcliffe, a recipient of the Church Women United’s Human Rights Award, and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.