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Black History Month: The Combahee River Collective

February is Black History Month; originally started as a way to educate people about Black Americans and their contributions, successes, and struggles, it has continued to be a time for acknowledging, commemorating, and appreciating the role of Black people and Black communities in the history of the United States. We have Black organizers to thank for the birth of many modern-day programs that enact community care. Their bravery, creativity, compassion and commitment to the service others are critically important values that we strive to embody in our work today. The legacy of Black Americans should be celebrated and honored; the achievements, accomplishments, and contributions of the Black community must be kept alive. Their stories are a critical part of our history and our work of growing food justice today and tomorrow. Follow along as we highlight different Black folks and organizations during Black History Month.

“Building identity politics gave us a platform, an analysis, and a certain sense of confidence that we deserved to be part of the dialogue. If we had not done that, where would women of color be, as far as being able to assert the legitimacy of our concerns and the particularity of our point of view?”

– Barbara Smith (member of CRC) in conversation with Virginia Eubanks

The Combahee River Collective (CRC) was founded in 1974 by a collective of Black lesbian feminists in Boston. The Combahee River Collective was formed after seeing how many organizations, led by white women and Black men, left out the voices of Black women, queer, and trans folks. The CRC was inspired by national liberation and anti-colonial movements. The CRC centered on anti-capitalist revolutionary organizing. It was created by those who saw “Black feminism as the logical political movement to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face” (The Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977). The CRC statement has been used as a tool for organizers and includes a commitment to disrupting our capitalistic system that creates racism, sexism, white supremacy, class oppression, and homophobia. They coined the term ‘identity politics,’ a view that comes from an individual’s lived experience, in this case, experiences influenced by gender, race, class, and sexuality.