Forty Years After Combahee
Dr. Gill Wright Miller (DANC/WGST) and Dr. Toni King (BLST/WGST) accompanied 16 Denison University Women’s and Gender Studies and Black Studies majors and minors to the 2017 National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland last month. The conference was held November 16-19, 2017. NWSA's theme was “Forty Years after Combahee: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives” with keynote speakers Angela Davis and Alicia Garza. Both Drs. Miller and King presented their research—Dr. Miller on developing solidarity through embodied, empathetic sisterhood, and Dr. King on the hidden traditions of culturally relevant womanist pedagogy within the academy.
“This was an extraordinary opportunity that allowed our students to witness many brilliant thinkers and doers from 40 years ago through today in one place. The sheer power in taking our students to meet, in person, these amazing theorist/activists cannot be understated. These more senior women, acting as activist mentors, continue to be inspiring because the work that engages many of our current students was initiated by their having taken risks and coming to voice, forming visionary activist agendas that did not exist until they stepped up. To hear their stories first hand reminded us of our own responsibity to participate—to be active citizens—in our democracy,” reflected Dr. Miller.
Denison University made history, again, as we had more undergraduates attending than any other college/university in the history of NWSA. “This was a highlight of my 20 years at Denison. It was also a joy to be at the conference with all of you. My colleagues think you all are awesome and that you represented Denison well as intellectuals and leaders,” said Dr. Toni King.
Our students recognized both the historical and the personal value in attending NWSA in the company of 3000 other feminists. Linh Duong '19 wrote, “NWSA is unique in the way that it is incredibly inspiring to see generation upon generation of feminists fighting for equality. From Angela Davis who is now in her seventies to Asha Rosa, a college student like us, meeting all these people during this conference have again recharged me and energized me to continue down this path.”
We are thankful to the Laura C. Harris endowment that made this opportunity financially possible for each and every student interested in attending.