Timeline of Accomplishments
Black Women’s Blueprint (BWB) is a national Black feminist organization using civil and human rights approaches to organize and develop a culture where women of African descent are fully empowered and where gender; race and other disparities are erased. We engage in progressive research, historical documentation, and policy advocacy and organize on social justice issues steeped in the struggles of Black women within their communities and within dominant culture. We are the convener of the first Truth Commission ever to focus on Black women in the U.S. and their historical and contemporary experiences with rape/sexual assault.
Black Woman’s Blueprint is founded when a group of Black women who identify as African, Afro-Latina, Caribbean and African- American began a discussion in 2008. These discussions, in sister-circles, living rooms, backyards and kitchen tables, centered on the 2008 Democratic Primaries where a Black man (Barack Obama) and a White woman (Hillary Clinton) spoke on behalf of race and sex, respectively. These women highlighted society’s tendency to erase Black women’s experiences and they discussed the need for Black women to offer their own voice or “blueprint” in the public discourse. As a result, Black Women’s Blueprint was formed to address the ever-present history and legacy of slavery, sexual and reproductive exploitation and subsequent periods of holocaust.
BWB launches its Solidarity Economy Initiative by moving into Commons Brooklyn, a Solidarity Economy space with a farmer’s market, a small vegetable garden on the roof, and a hive for beekeeping. With a goal to utilize the space, which hosts grassroots arts and social justice initiatives, to create avenues of agency and self-sustenance for marginalized groups.
BWB launches its first outreach campaign to Black communities via Dance Africa’s Bazaar and other public places. Over 2500 received informational postcards and were engaged in conversation about the community’s role in ending sexual assault.
BWB launches its grassroots Gender Justice Fund initiative and shares resources with other non-profits and groups by hosting its first event with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. The GJF evoked conversation on relationships between Black & white women during the Civil Rights Movement by screening the film Wednesdays in Mississippi about the Wednesdays Women who worked together in the Jim Crow South to end racialized violence
BWB supports Sex Crimes Against Black Girls, a multimedia exhibition portraying sexual exploitation and oppression experienced by young girls throughout the African Diaspora at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation Center with notable artists including Shantrelle P. Lewis as Curator, Numa Perrier, Kimberly M. Becoat, Delphine Fawundu Buford and Alexandria Smith.
BWB moves into a two-story brownstone in the heart of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. From there, it provides an open space for members to convene and organize BWB initiatives, utilize office supplies, build fellowship with one another during BWB events, and meet with staff members for counseling and other healing services.
BWB launches a radio program with its first conversation entitled No Hierarchy of Oppression: Born Black and A Woman. The program’s highest-rated show, on the subject of marital rape, garnered over 14,000 listeners.
BWB joins the Campaign to Stop Police Brutality by centering women’s voices on police reform, accountability and community control. Members facilitate workshops on power structures and bystander intervention, testifiy to their horrific experiences with Stop and Frisk at City Hall, on local television news stations and by producing a short film, Under Siege: The Policing of Women and Girls. They support lobbying efforts alongside various organizations for the passage of the Community Safety Act, the End Discriminatory Profiling Act and the NYPD Oversight Act.
BWB writes An Open Letter from Black Women to the SlutWalk which addressed the failure of SlutWalk organizers to address the history and sexual oppression of Black women and other women of color in their anti-rape movement. BWB’s letter garnered a significant amount of media attention, with references in online publications like ColorLines, Clutch Magazine, Feministing, Ms. Magazine, the Nation, the Crunk Feminist Collective as well as a re-blog in the Huffington Post’s Black Voices section.
BWB launches healing programs including crisis counseling for victims of rape in communities of African descent, sister-circles and healing circles with funding from the United States Department of Justice.
BWB launches Critical Participatory Action Research using a survey developed and led by survivors of rape/sexual assault to gauge the incidences of sexual assault against Black women in their own communities. The survey found that 60% of Black Women in the U.S. reported experiencing sexual assault, and many before the age of 18 according to initial findings from a survey still ongoing by BWB. Further, we found that Black communities have a host of innovative ideas for supporting survivors, for primary prevention and for grassroots accountability measures.
BWB hosts the first Mother Tongue Monologues performance entitled, Mother Tongue Monologues: From the Middle Passage to Today’s Justice Movements at the Brecht Forum in Downtown Manhattan. The monologues focused on Black women’s historical consciousness as females and as members of the Black community from slavery to the present day.
BWB launches its work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, providing anti-violence training and technical assistance in collaboration with the United States Office on Violence Against Women and the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA).
BWB organizes, along with Hunter College, V-Day and others, The Anita Hill: 20 Years Later Campaign. It brought together 2000 scholars, students and organizations, with special guest Anita Hill, to discuss intersections of race, gender, class, politics and the law when analyzing women’s credibility, Black masculinity and contemporary cases of sexual harassment.
BWB opens The Museum of Women’s Resistance (MoWRe) as a part of its Black HerStory Archives and hosts its first exhibits, Gifts to a Freedom Fighter and Hypersexualized: A Photographic Timeline of Stereotypes and Women’s Resistance Against Rape Culture. MoWRe’s early exhibits gave the museum its foundation in unearthing knowledge about the unsung Black heroines of the Civil Rights Movement and about the various avenues of political resistance against sexual violence explored by feminists of color from around the world.
BWB hosts the second Mother Tongue Monologues entitled, Mother Tongue Monologues: Monologues for Black Girls and Stolen Women Reclaiming Our Bodies, Our Selves, Our Lives, at the National Black Theater. In an effort to expand the dialogue sparked by the organization’s earlier response to Slutwalk, individuals spoke out against racism and patriarchy’s negative effects on the bodies, desires and happiness of Black women.
BWB’s Flagship project, the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (BWTRC), is endorsed by the International Center for Transitional Justice which has provided technical assistance and oversight over every Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has occurred anywhere in the world since 1980.
Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall, the Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor Women’s Studies at Spelman College joins the advisory board of the BWTRC.
BWB hosts the third annual Mother Tongue Monologues performance entitled, Mother Tongue: Monologues for Lesbian Ancestral Wives and Revolutionary Women Speaking the Unspeakable. The performance honored Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Documentarian and Black Lesbian Feminist and Staceyann Chin, Jamaican Author and Spoken Word Poet. As a step to recognize the issues of queer and gender nonconforming members of the Black feminist community, the 2013 Mother Tongue performance featured monologues speaking out against violence, the hypersexualization and ridicule of LGBTQ people as well as intimate-partner violence in same sex relationships.
BWB MoWRe becomes a Site of Consciousness, an honorary title bestowed to institutions paying tribute to histories of oppressed peoples by using spaces to advocate for their civil and human rights. The title is given by the International Coalition of Sites of Consciousness which is made up of nine prestigious historic sites, memory initiatives and museums around the world including Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
The Brooklyn Museum offers its Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium as the home for the 2014 production of Mother Tongue: Monologues for Truth Bearing Women, Emerging Sons and Other Keepers of the Flame, the first public deliberation facilitated by organizers as part of its Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to attain justice for survivors testifying about their experiences of rape/sexual assault.
BWB launces its Training Institute which offers a series of workshops educating participants on bystander intervention, violence against the LGBTQ community, terminology for various sexual orientations and gender nonconforming groups, constitutional rights in interacting with law enforcement, the connection between different forms of sexual violence and finally the manifestation and impact of Black sexual politics in contemporary America.
Black Women’s Blueprint won unprecedented recognition for Black/African American women at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland with the first ever report and testimonies on racism and sexual assault against Black women in the U.S. to UN Committee on the Convention on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (CERD).BWB supports Sex Crimes Against Black Girls, a multimedia exhibition portraying sexual exploitation and oppression.
Testified to the UN and issued a report denouncing sexualized violence against Black/African American women in the U.S. exposing Black women’s invisibility, criminal justice abused, police sexual misconduct and Black women’s lack of access to justice to the Committee Against Torture.
Held first public deliberation of the U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Black Women and Sexual Assault, by providing a public platform for women and gender non-conforming survivors to testify, engage in dialogue with Black men and community on the issue of accountability.
Provided healing and counseling services for over 100 Black survivors of rape and sexual violence, reaching Black women in the Diasporic communities of England and France.
Trained over 100 judges and court personnel, 200 students, campus staff and administrators, and over 250 counselors on the intersectionality of race, gender and gender-violence as systemic barriers to justice and safety.
Black Women’s Blueprint receives the Wonder Award by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine.
Black Women’s Blueprint is featured in Essence and Ebony magazines for its innovative work addressing poverty among survivors of sexual violence.
Black Women’s Blueprint partners with Black Lives Matter NYC, Black Youth Project and the African American Policy Forum for a national day of action for Black women and girls in New York City.
Black Women’s Blueprint launches the Emerging Sons Campaign by hosting a transformative conversation with Black men on masculinity, sexual violence and the ways Black men can support Black women in the fight against rape.
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