The Women of Black Lives Matter

From the Winter 2015 issue of Ms.: Patrisse Cullors, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and organized the Black Lives Matter campaign after the 2012 killing of the unarmed young Floridian Trayvon Martin by a self-appointed vigilante.

“Movement and change take a significant amount of time,” said Cullors. “We are in a state of emergency, [but] things take decades, centuries to change. To unearth those systems––racism, patriarchy, transphobia––takes consistency and perseverance.” 

(For more ground-breaking stories like this, order 50 YEARS OF Ms.: THE BEST OF THE PATHFINDING MAGAZINE THAT IGNITED A REVOLUTION, Alfred A. Knopf—a collection of the most audacious, norm-breaking coverage Ms. has published.)

To Counter Anti-Democracy Efforts, It’s Time to Invest in Florida Year-Round

Florida is ground zero for what is known among organizers and philanthropists as “boom-and-bust” funding—meaning money flows in during big election cycles and dries up immediately after. Yet electoral and issue-based organizing is a 24/7 operation. In recent years, these efforts have led to restoring voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and legalizing medical marijuana. These massive wins were led by the people of Florida, even as the legislature acted against their will. 

Boom-and-bust patterns are sure to pose a particular challenge in 2024, given the state’s six-week abortion ban officially taking effect is now coupled with a citizen-initiated opportunity for Florida voters to undo the ban this November and enshrine protections for abortion in the state Constitution. 

Rather than funding a single issue or candidate during an election cycle, an integrated voter engagement approach, with year-to-year financial and capacity-building support for gender and reproductive justice groups, is the most essential element of a healthy pro-democracy funding environment.

A Comedian in the War on Abortion: The Ms. Q&A with Lizz Winstead and Ruth Leitman

Lizz Winstead, comedian and founder of Abortion Access Front, teamed up with director Ruth Leitman to create the hilarious, heart-filled documentary No One Asked You.

“There’s nothing shameful about needing to have an abortion,” Winstead told Ms.

“It’s a medical procedure that people need to help them achieve their life goals, and to help them have the life that they want to have,” said Leitman.

Merle Hoffman’s Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto: ‘Anger Is Our Sacred Fuel’

In her new book Choices: A Post-Roe Abortion Rights Manifesto, Hoffman shares her 50-plus year fight for abortion access, including co-founding the first professional organization of abortion providers in the U.S. in 1976, the National Abortion Federation, and in 1985 founding the New York Pro-Choice Coalition. Part memoir, part call to arms, Hoffman’s book offers an engaging and thought-provoking assessment of how we lost the right to abortion and what we need to do today to achieve “legal abortion on demand nationwide.”

As U.S. Faces a Rising Tide of Abortion Bans and Restrictions, France Enshrines Freedom of Access in the Constitution

In 2023, seeking “to avoid a U.S.-like scenario for women in France, as hard-right groups are gaining ground,” President Emmanuel Macron promised a constitutional amendment affirming women’s right to abortion and to control over their own bodies. The amendment subsequently passed by a crushing majority of 780 to 72 votes and was inserted ceremoniously into the French Constitution on March 8, 2024, International Women’s Day.

Meanwhile in 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court decision overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade that held abortion as a protected right under the United States Constitution

How do we explain the radically different trajectories on this critical dimension of women’s rights between two countries with strong feminist and anti-abortion movements that decriminalized abortion within a few years of one another?  

A Blueprint for a Stronger America in Coretta Scott King

Often overlooked when we think about Dr. King is the essential role his wife, Coretta Scott King, played to fortify his work. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is crucial to recognize the indomitable spirit of women like Coretta Scott King who carved a path for change in a time less forgiving, demonstrating the irreplaceable impact of feminine leadership. She was a warrior for social justice her entire life, whom we should remember and embody this month—and every month—in the ongoing journey to create a more equitable America.