Tag Archives: activism

Mandy Carter, Peace Walker

Since starting my internship with the Sallie Bingham Center last August, I’ve spent time each week processing the papers of Mandy Carter, a self-described “southern out black lesbian social justice activist.”

This year Carter celebrates 45 years of social, racial, and lesbigaytrans justice organizing, and it’s almost impossible to summarize all that she has done—beginning with peace activism in the late 1960s and continuing today in her role as National Coordinator for the Bayard Rustin Commemoration Project of the National Black Justice Coalition. So instead, here’s one small peek.

Though based in Durham for much of her career, Carter has traveled up, down, and around the country in support of her activism–and in the summer of 1983, she walked from Durham, North Carolina to Seneca, New York as part of the Women’s Peace Walk.

From left to right: Judy Winston, Mandy Carter, Elana Freedom. The trio completed the entire 600+ mile walk. Along the way, other women joined for a day, weekend, week, or longer. Newspaper clipping, 1983, Mandy Carter Papers
From left to right: Judy Winston, Mandy Carter, Elana Freedom. The trio completed the entire 600+ mile walk. Along the way, other women joined for a day, weekend, week, or longer. Newspaper clipping, 1983, from the Mandy Carter Papers.

Organized by the Southeast Regional Office of the War Resisters League—where Carter worked at the time—the Women’s Peace Walk aimed to draw attention to and protest the build-up of nuclear arms and specifically, the planned deployment of Cruise and Pershing II missiles to Europe later that year.

Women’s Peace Walk brochure, 1983.  From the Mandy Carter Papers.
Women’s Peace Walk brochure, 1983. From the Mandy Carter Papers.

Organizers timed the end of the walk to coincide with the beginning of the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, and the destination itself held particular significance. The area was not only home to the Seneca Army Depot, a nuclear bomb and missile storage site, it was also where women of the Iroquois Nation met in 1590 to demand an end to war among the tribes and where more than 300 men and women came together in 1848 for the nation’s first women’s rights convention.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mandy Carter, her lifelong activism, and social change in Durham over the past 30 years, head down to the Durham County Library at 5:30pm on Wednesday for a panel discussion featuring Carter, Caitlin Breedlove (Co-Director, Southerners On New Ground) and Steve Schewel (Founder, Independent Weekly). Event details are available here.

Post contributed by Stephanie Barnwell, Bingham Center Intern.

Digitizing the LCRM Update #9: Remembering the Allen Building Takeover

This month’s Digitizing the Long Civil Rights Movement update pauses to look back into Duke’s own past struggles with racial equality.  On February 13, 1969, students in the Afro-American Society occupied the Allen Building where the university’s primary administration offices were (and still are) located.  These students demanded that Duke take steps to enact racial equality on campus, including the founding of an African-American Studies department, the hiring of more African-American professors, and the establishment of an African-American cultural center on campus.  Similar demands had been made before from members of the Black Studies Program, as featured in our fourth update in this blog series.

What distinguished the Allen Building Takeover from the previous efforts for reform was its forcefulness—on both sides of the debate.  The Takeover marked the first such occupation by students in Duke’s history.  The administration’s response also became notable for what some members of the student body perceived to be its brutality.  Police officers dispatched to the scene used tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered around the building, leading to a “riot” on the main quad of West Campus.

Photos from <i>The Chronicle</i>, February 16, 1969.

Photos from <i>The Chronicle</i>, February 16, 1969.
Both photos from The Chronicle, February 16, 1969.
Allen Building Takeover Collection, Box 1, Folder 10: abtms01010035

In the wake of the Takeover, students rallied to enact the suggested agenda of the original occupiers.  Eventually, most of the demands did become standard practice at Duke, but the change occurred more gradually than what the galvanized student body had wanted in February 1969.  The items selected above are from a photo essay published by The Chronicle (Duke’s independent student newspaper) that encapsulated the events of Takeover.

We are happy to announce that the Allen Building Takeover Collection and its wealth of primary documents and remembrances of the important event will soon become available online to researchers.

For more information on the Content, Context, and Capacity Project for Digitizing the LCRM, please visit our website or like us on Facebook.

The grant-funded CCC Project is designed to digitize selected manuscripts and photographs relating to the long civil rights movement. For more about Rubenstein Library materials being digitized through the CCC Project, check out previous progress updates posted here at The Devil’s Tale

Post contributed by Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Assistant.

A Decidedly Feminist Taxonomy: Meredith Tax Comes to the Sallie Bingham Center

Meredith Tax, taken by Miriam Berkeley
Meredith Tax, taken by Miriam Berkeley

The personal and professional papers of writer, organizer, and leading women’s movement activist Meredith Tax came to the Sallie Bingham Center in 2010. To celebrate the acquisition of this extensive collection the Center will host a symposium in Tax’s honor on April 13 and 14 called Acting Across Borders: The Future of the Feminist 1970s. Along with Meredith Tax, distinguished African scholar and activist Patricia McFadden will present the keynote address of an event that aims to grapple with how the interventions and methodologies of the women’s liberation movement inform current and future social justice movements. In anticipation of her trip to Duke, Meredith took a few minutes to share her reasons for putting her papers here and to give a sense of what people can expect to learn at the symposium.

Why did you decide to put your papers in the Bingham Center?

I investigated several feminist archives and chose the Bingham Center because it had a much more energetic and activist approach to archival work than I saw elsewhere. I want my papers to be used not only by scholars but by young people who want to learn from the history of earlier social movements. Because the Bingham Center does outreach to inform students about its collections and gives fellowships for researchers to work in its archive, I think my papers will be most accessible there.

What would you tell students about the upcoming symposium celebrating your work?

We are at the dawn of a period of increasing political activism. Attendees at this symposium will learn from the life stories of people who shaped the women’s movement here and internationally. Speakers will talk about their own work and life experiences. They will discuss the way issues of race and class impacted the relationship between feminism and the left, the development of ecofeminism and international women’s movements, and the centrality of questions of sexuality, gender, and LGBT rights. Feminists from Southern Africa, Algeria, and India will discuss their own rich and complex confrontations with sexism, nationalism and religious fundamentalism. These stories will show that, contrary to the right wing myth that feminists are white middle class women who are just out for themselves, feminists in the US and elsewhere have always grappled with issues of race and class, war and peace, nationalism and the environment, and that these efforts continue from one generation to the next.

Frances Ansley and Meredith Tax at a Bread & Roses-organized protest in 1970. Ansley will also speak at the upcoming symposium.
Frances Ansley and Meredith Tax at a Bread & Roses-organized protest in 1970.

What are some of the topics you plan to address in your keynote speech at the symposium?

I will tell the story of my life, from a childhood shaped by the sexism of the 50s to the early days of the Boston women’s movement, battles within the left and my own struggle to overcome the ignorance resulting from class and race privilege, my participation in the reproductive rights movement, and my work in International PEN (Postsecondary Education Network International) as part of a global movement for women’s human rights which must go on in this new period to link the struggle for social and economic justice and sustainability with the fight against all forms of fundamentalism.

For more information on Meredith Tax, check out her website. And be sure to register here to come to the Acting Across Borders symposium on April 13 and 14, 2012. Registration is free and open to the public!