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For Immediate Release
TFW’s Tamura Lomax, Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Alexis Pauline Gumbs to be honored by Spelman College and Black Women’s Blueprint April 29 – 30, 2017 at the Words of Fire Conference in Atlanta, GA.
More than 1200 grassroots activists, artists and academics of the U.S. and formerly so-called Third World meet at Spelman College, as women and girls in Black communities are under siege. With the federal administration’s recent budget proposal to make vital cuts to anti-rape, anti-battery and anti-stalking prevention services that ensure human rights to personal and economic security, non-torture and bodily autonomy, Black women are running out of places to turn to for safety and justice. Black women are turning to each other and building power and and are calling all communities to join women of the African Diaspora at the Words of Fire Conference in a response to the current political climate and because they’ve always taken up the mantle to fight for civil rights, human rights and human dignity. What better place for a conference than Spelman College, exactly one year after the 2016 U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault.
Not to be missed, the Conference will honor more than 30 Black women leaders in Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall’s “Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought,” including Pearl Cleage, Byllye Avery, Cheryl Clarke, Angela Davis, Michelle Wallace, Barbara Smith, Akasha Gloria Hull, Paula Giddings, Patricia Hill Collins and others like Loretta Ross, Ruby Sales, Fania Davis, Anita Hill, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Brittney Cooper and Bre Ann Campbell of Trans Sistas of Color, Detroit. With a provocative presentation by Darci McConnell, Kim Trent and Kymberli Worthy of Enough SAID, working to end rape kit backlogs in their state, and a training by Wellstone Action for HBCU women on electoral politics, there is no doubt that the inter-generational, deliberative dialogues and workshops planned for Words of Fire will mean an increase in political action and Black women’s participation in national women’s rights movements that bridge differences across race, ethnicity, sexuality, economic status and other intersections. Where some felt the post-election Women’s March didn’t meet all of their needs, Words of Fire is the place for Black women to unite their voices, speaking loudly to demand an end to policies that perpetuate gender and racial oppression. For those ready to resist and transform their communities, step up.
Farah Tanis, 646-263-1050 | Ftanis@blueprintny.org
Ericka Dixon, 917-685-9687 | Ericka@blueprintny.org
Tamura Lomax is an educator, writer and believer in social justice. Her call to the movement is through radical teaching, publishing, and critical space-making. She received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Religion where she specialized in Black Religion and Black Diaspora Studies. She also developed expertise in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Black British and U.S. Black Cultural Studies. She is specifically interested in the ways that linguistic and representational technologies of power construct and institutionalize ideas of race and gender and how these ideas not only establish notions of innate difference, but ultimately affect Black diasporic people in general and Black women and girls specifically in their everyday lives, sometimes igniting epistemic and/or material violence. Her scholarship interrogates these intersections by placing special emphasis on North American slavery, social movements of the 1960s, and contemporary social movement, religion and popular culture.
In 2011, she, along with Hortense Spillers, co-founded The Feminist Wire (TFW), an online publication committed to feminist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist socio-political critique. Today, Dr. Lomax is the CEO and visionary for TFW. Her vision is to create space for justice work through critical conversation, exchange, mass-mediation, and dynamic accessible education. Her hope is to bring academic expertise to the streets and vice versa. Since its founding, TFW has published over two thousand intersectional and justice centered scholarly essays, including the original Black Lives Matter herstory by Alicia Garza in 2014, organized the very first university conference on Black Lives Matter, and coordinated various forums on topics such as Black (Academic) Women’s Health; Assata Shakur; Trayvon Martin; Disabilities; Race, Racism and Anti-Racism in Feminism; and Mumia Abu-Jamal, Race, Gender and the Carceral State. In addition to online publishing, TFW has a book series with the University of Arizona Press: The Feminist Wire Books: Connecting Feminisms, Race, and Social Justice.
Dr. Lomax believes that cultural representation, sexual subjectivity and safety are inclusive in the social justice project and that Black religion has consistently been both a great signifier and source of meaning in this undertaking. That is, to engage in a discourse on Black human rights is to first imagine Black people as whole persons with inherent worth and dignity, and second, to take seriously the functionality of Black religiosity in the journey from freedom to captivity to neo-coloniality. With this in mind, her work moves between religion, popular culture, politics and the body. In 2014 she published Womanist and Black Feminist Responses to Tyler Perry’s Cultural Productions (Palgrave Macmillan), a co-authored edited volume with Rhon S. Manigault-Bryant and Carol B. Duncan, and is presently finishing up her first single authored monograph, Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Black Religion and Black Popular Culture (Duke University Press). In 2017 she curated #BlackSkinWhiteSin and “Black Bodies in Ecstasy: Black Women, the Black Church, and the Politics of Pleasure,” and co-organized “Our History, Our Future: a Multigenerational Human Rights Conference” at Boston University.
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, writer and international lecturer. An incest and rape survivor, she is the creator of the Ford Foundation-funded, internationally acclaimed and award-winning feature length film NO! The Rape Documentary. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself, it must complete the work that [NO!] begins.” Simmons is the 2015-2016 Sterling Brown Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College. She is also a 2016-2018 Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow. Previously, she was an Adjunct Professor in the Women’s and LGBT Studies Program at Temple University, an Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Scripps College, an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and an Artist-in-Residence at Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon. Her essays and articles have been published in several anthologies including the recently released Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence anthology edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers and the forthcoming Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Sexual Violence Movemen anthology edited by Jennifer Patterson. Her cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in a wide range of media outlets including in a wide range of media outlets including The Root, Crisis, Forbes, Left of Black, In These Times, Ms. Magazine, Alternet, ColorLines, The Philadelphia Weekly, National Public Radio (NPR), Pacifica Radio Network and Black Entertainment Television (BET). She has screened her work, lectured extensively, taught classes, and facilitated workshops and dialogues at colleges and universities, rape crisis centers, juvenile correctional facilities, and government sponsored events throughout the United States and Canada, and in countries in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. You can follow her on twitter @AfroLez.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black troublemaker, a black feminist love evangelist, a prayer poet priestess and has a PhD in English, African and African-American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies from Duke University. Alexis was the first scholar to research the Audre Lorde Papers at Spelman College, the June Jordan Papers at Harvard University, and the Lucille Clifton Papers at Emory University, and she is currently on tour with her interactive oracle project “The Lorde Concordance,” a series of ritual mobilizing the life and work of Audre Lorde as a dynamic sacred text. Alexis has also published widely on Caribbean Women’s Literature with a special interest in Dionne Brand. Her scholarly work is published in Obsidian, Symbiosis, Macomere, The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Literature, SIGNS, Feminist Collections, The Black Imagination, Mothering and Hip Hop Culture, The Business of Black Power and more. Alexis is the author of an acclaimed collection of poems 101 Things That Are Not True About the Most Famous Black Women Alive and poetic work published in Kweli, Vinyl, Backbone, Everyday Genius, Turning Wheel, UNFold, Makeshift and more. She has several books in progress including a book of poems, Good Hair Gone Forever, a scholarly monograph on diaspora and the maternal, and an educational resource called the School of Our Lorde. She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming edited collection on legacies of radical mothering called This Bridge Called My Baby. Alexis is the founder of Brilliance Remastered, a service to help visionary underrepresented graduate students stay connected to purpose, passion, and community, co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Project, a national experiential archive amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ Brilliance, and the community school Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind. Alexis was named one of UTNE Reader’s 50 Visionaries Transforming the World in 2009, was awarded a Too Sexy for 501-C3 trophy in 2011, and is one of the Advocate’s top 40 under 40 features in 2012.