“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
– Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems
This Black History Month and always, we celebrate and pay homage to Black women and gender-expansive advocates who inspire and teach us about leadership and legacy every day.
From historical figures such as Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks to well-known activists like Tarana Burke to the countless unsung advocates working in the frontlines, the history of the gender-based violence (GBV) movement IS Black history. Black women and gender-expansive people have always been here – visioning, mothering, laboring, leading, and laying the foundation. But while Black advocates have been pivotal in helping to build this work, their contributions are often erased within and outside the movement.
For years, white women have primarily occupied the most powerful leadership roles in the GBV movement. As a result, white women’s perspectives, standpoints, and experiences become the primary drivers that shape local, state, and national movement agendas. The overt lack of diversity reflects an enduring racialized systematic erasure of women of color (https://www.transformgbv.org).
Black advocates, however, still rise every day in this movement despite all the challenges. We celebrate their endurance and resourcefulness. We boldly state that Black advocates are too important and central to this work to be pushed to the margins. We are cheering them on as they rise. We commit to centering Black voices and leadership, and we work to dismantle anti-Blackness and other oppressive systems that attempt to “write [them] down in history.”
This Black History Month and always, we learn from the past and honor the legacy of the ancestors. We work in the present to center and celebrate Black wisdom, power, and leadership. And we dream and imagine a future in which Black advocates can not only survive but thrive in this movement. This Technical Assistance (TA) Bundle includes reflections, calls to action, and recommendations for nurturing the well-being of Black advocates and creating supportive, equitable work environments that emphasize accountability and anti-racist practices.
“Trust Black women. Trust Black people. We have been showing you the way for centuries in anti-violence, and on the issue of social justice and practice, we haven't been wrong.” – Michelle Osborne, National Prevention Town Hall (September 2022)