The 40th Anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement

I went to Socialism 2017 a few weekends ago in Chicago. One of the panels featured two people who founded the Combahee River Collective and are authors of this Statement, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. I’d never heard of the Combahee River Collective, but everyone was buzzing about this panel, so I checked it out. And I am happy to report I am not the same. I am now yelling about the importance of centering Black feminism in all parts of our socialist politics to everyone who will and won’t listen.

When they put out the audio from the panels, I’ll link it again here. For now, here is the original statement. They wrote about intersectionality before the term was coined, and someone from the audience asked a question about the phrase “identity politics.” I learned that this Statement is, as far as we know, the first time anybody used the words “identity politics” together, and the panelists clarified that they wouldn’t use it as it is used today “because it doesn’t capture the intricacies of Black feminism” and that they had used it expressly because their voices had been so incredibly and explicitly silenced. They were silenced in feminist circles because they were Black, in leftist circles because they were Black and they were women, and in racial justice circles because they were women. And none of those things doesn’t affect all the other things. And above all they’re brilliant Marxist theorists. Barbara said “and sometimes people ask, why don’t you join Marxism then? The answer is, this didn’t come from Marxism, it came from Black feminism. Black feminism augments Marxism.”

I feel a lot less lonely now, and like the movement comes from inside me along with from inside a lot of other people, all kinds of other people. I’d felt like I was watching a movement that a bunch of white people (mostly dudes but women too) owned and I was cheering from the fringes. I don’t feel like that anymore at all.


Thanks for posting this, I didn’t know about the statement or the conference. Looks like the video is now online at

Also to read:


thanks! i’m still feeling echoes of this. here are some other links…

When the collective was established in 1974 in Boston, Frazier recalled, “We were all intelligent probative minds with a base foundation of we really know we have to speak truth to power and address it, and we’re going to actively do it. We’re not waiting for anyone. We’re not looking for a road map. We were making a map.

(emphasis mine.)

also has the facebook video at the bottom of the writeup. @maiki do you have a good way of getting the video from fb and on the internet archive or something? actually maybe it’s there already? actually is that allowed and stuff? i think this panel is really incredible and it changed my life and i’m not kidding about that so i want more people to be able to watch it not just on fb.


and another …

“You have to find that joy in struggle,” Barbara Smith advised. “You cannot continue to be miserable in the context of struggle. Because if you are, then you are not being able to accomplish and function.”

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How big is the video once downloaded? Maybe we can just post it to talkgroup.

Can youtube-dl be used for FB videos?

I got a book about them! It’s called “How We Get Free” and it’s really fantastic so far, obviously. They are truly brilliant.


164.8 MB

@judytuna They talk about this conference in the book!

I’ll think about this. I mean, you can try uploading it, I don’t know what the limit, if any, is. :slight_smile:

I just uploaded it to my Nextcloud as an experiment.

I am wondering what happens if I put the link on its own line here in Discourse!