From the Vault: Coretta Scott King, a Revolutionary Woman

While Coretta Scott King has been celebrated as a civil rights icon, her vision of “the beloved community” was bolder and more revolutionary than her husband Martin’s. When we retell the story of radical African American activism in the 20th century, we can finally embrace Coretta Scott King as the truly revolutionary figure she was.

*This article was originally published in the Spring 2006 issue of Ms.—a few months after Coretta Scott King’s death on January 30, 2006.*

Rest in Power: Sarah Weddington, Feminist Attorney and Champion of Roe v. Wade

On Jan. 22, 2022, we mark the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The case was argued by a 26-year-old female lawyer from Texas: Sarah Weddington, in her first appearance before the Court. Female lawyers were so rare in those days that the Supreme Court lawyers lounge didn’t even have a ladies’ room. There were no female judges; Weddington faced a wall of older white men.

Almost five decades after the decision, Sarah Weddington died at her home in Austin on Dec. 26, 2021, at age 76, after a period of declining health. Rest in power, Sarah Weddington.

It’s Mourning in America: Feminists Reflect on the Incredible Loss of Our Sista bell hooks

The National Women’s Studies Association mourns the passing of Dr. Gloria Jean Watkins, Ph.D./bell hooks—genius, scholar, cultural critic, author, professor, truth speaker, a lover of words and of us. She challenged us, taught us, spoke to and sometimes for us. She gave us the words to say and the courage to say them. bell hooks never gave up. She never gave in. She was more than we could have asked for and gave us more than we could have ever imagined. As someone said, our heroes are dying, and our enemies are in power.

As NWSA marks this moment, I reached out and asked some of our former presidents to join with me and share their reflections and stories to add their voices to our collective of love.

Subject: Man. Object: Woman. Verb? Control.

It is not simply or only “hatred” that motivates the sexists of the world, but the very desire to define and therefore to control. 

It’s then easy to see how attacks on reproductive rights are connected with the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment: Because if women are fully self-determined—can determine when and if they have children, when and with whom they have sex—then they cannot be there, fully, inevitably, without their own desire, for you. For a man. 

Pushed to be Betty Draper, I Was Always More Like Don

Despite growing up in the age of Mad Men, as a child, I was more like Don Draper than his wife Betty. At 16, it was in the pages of Ms. magazine that I realized I didn’t have to be either one.

Ms. gave me my first feminist click, that moment of recognition and I had a name for what I long felt. Feminism. Like their first cover girl, any one of us could be Wonder Woman. Or a cover girl. The pages were filled with women filmmakers, athletes, sculptors, writers, lawyers and activists. In time, I discovered I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t in order to be who I was.

What’s Wrong With the Truth?

On July 1, Tennessee enacted legislation that inherently bans schools from teaching anything related to the truth of Tennessee or American history in all state public and charter schools.  

Is history all pretty? Hell, no! But it is the truth, and the truth isn’t always pretty. However, teaching the truth is the gateway to learning, understanding and not repeating the past’s errors. So again, I ask, what’s wrong with the truth? Absolutely nothing if one isn’t encased in fear with blinders to hold onto the past.  

Amazon’s Cinderella and Systemic Change: No More Patriarchy Means a Happy Ending For All

In Amazon’s Cinderella musical, Cinderella gets what she most wants because there is a radical shifting of structural power. The prince suddenly doesn’t have to marry for status, the queen is suddenly free to speak up and the king is suddenly understanding of how ridiculous gender bias is and anoints his daughter to be next in line.

If only in real life it were that simple.