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Black Women Taught Us: An Intimate History of Black Feminism

Jenn M. Jackson

Penguin Random House, January 2024


Jenn M. Jackson, assistant professor of political science, has written “Black Women Taught Us: An Intimate History of Black Feminism” (Random House Press, 2024).

Jackson traces an intellectual and political history of Black women’s activism, highlighting their movement organizing, coalition building and philosophical work. The book’s 11 original essays explore how Black women writers and leaders such as Harriet Jacobs, Ida B. Wells, Audre Lorde, organizers of the Combahee River Collective and others have long been central to liberation movements in the U.S. and abroad. Black women’s theorizing and political work can teach lessons on how to advocate for racial, gender and sexual justice in today’s movements and create a more just world, Jackson contends.

Jackson has published multiple peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Black politics and movements, to Black, queer and trans feminisms and abolition and carceral systems. They have also published many public-facing articles in Al Jazeera and the Washington Post and magazines such as Essence, Yes! and Teen Vogue.

Jackson is a senior research associate in the Campbell Public Affairs Institute. They are a faculty affiliate in Women’s and Gender Studies, African American Studies and LGBT Studies. Their areas of expertise are in Black politics, racial threat and trauma, gender and sexuality, political behavior, social movements and mixed methods. They teach courses on gender and politics, Black feminism, qualitative methods and American government. They received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2019.

From the Publisher: 

“This is my offering. My love letter to them, and to us.

Jenn M. Jackson, Ph.D., has been known to bring historical acuity to some of the most controversial topics in America today. Now, in their first book, Jackson applies their critical analysis to the questions that have long energized their work: Why has Black women’s freedom fighting been so overlooked throughout history, and what has our society lost because of our refusal to engage with our forestrugglers’ lessons?

A love letter to those who have been minimized and forgotten, this collection repositions Black women’s intellectual and political work at the center of today’s liberation movements.

Across eleven original essays that explore the legacy of Black women writers and leaders—from Harriet Jacobs and Ida B. Wells to the Combahee River Collective and Audre Lorde—Jackson sets the record straight about Black women’s longtime movement organizing, theorizing, and coalition building in the name of racial, gender, and sexual justice in the United States and abroad. These essays show, in both critical and deeply personal terms, how Black women have been at the center of modern liberation movements despite the erasure and misrecognition of their efforts. Jackson illustrates how Black women have frequently done the work of liberation at great risk to their lives and livelihoods.

For a new generation of movement organizers and co-strugglers, Black Women Taught Us serves as a reminder that Black women were the first ones to teach us how to fight racism, how to name that fight, and how to imagine a more just world for everyone.”

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

Campbell Public Affairs Institute
306 Eggers Hall