Black History Month 2017
Planned Parenthood strives to create a world where sexual and reproductive health care is accessible, affordable, and compassionate — no matter what.
Black women have always championed reproductive freedom and the elimination of racism and sexism as an essential element of the struggle toward civil rights. This Black History Month, Planned Parenthood honors the resilience of Black women like Dr. N. Louise Young and Dr. Thelma Patten Law, two of the first Black women health care providers at Planned Parenthood — and the resistance of women like Angela Davis who continue to fight for the full dignity, autonomy and the humanity of all women.
In commemoration of Black History Month each year, we lift up and celebrate those who have defied their time and circumstances to become Dream Keepers and freedom fighters. #100YearsStrong of Planned Parenthood could not be possible without the vision, tenacity and determination of those who have kept and protected the dream of reproductive freedom, justice and autonomy.
The 2017 Dream Keepers
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Journalist, Civil Rights Activist
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was the most prominent Black woman journalist of the late 19th and early 20th century. Her research and reporting around the lynching of Black people helped to bring national attention to the crisis and pushed federal legislation to hold mobs accountable.
Marsha P. Johnson
Activist, Stonewall Rioter
Marsha P. Johnson, co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), is credited with being one of the first people to resist the police during the Stonewall Riots of 1969. On the commemorative anniversary of the riots in 1970, Johnson led protesters to the Women’s Detention Center of New York chanting, “Free our sisters. Free ourselves,” which demonstrated early solidarity between LGBTQ rights and anti-prison movements.
Former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm
Black Feminist, Former Presidential Candidate
In 1990, Shirley Chisholm — along with former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Faye Wattleton, Byllye Avery, Donna Brazile, Dorothy Height, Maxine Waters, and Julianne Malveaux (among others) — formed the group African American Women for Reproductive Freedom to show their support for Roe v. Wade, doing so with what we now call a reproductive -justice framework. The former New York representative was the first African American woman elected to Congress. During her seven terms, Rep. Chisholm pioneered the Congressional Black Caucus and was an unwavering champion for women’s reproductive rights and access to health care, including abortion. In 2015, President Obama awarded Rep. Chisholm with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
Dr. N. Louise Young
Dr. N. Louise Young, a gynecologist and obstetrician, opened her practice in Baltimore in 1932. She later operated a Planned Parenthood health center that was opened with the assistance of the local Urban League and other community partners.
Dr. Thelma Patten Law
Dr. Thelma Patten Law becomes one of the first Black women ob-gyns in Texas. She provided health care for more than 25 years at the Planned Parenthood Houston Health Center, which opened in 1936.
Author, Advocate for Reproductive Freedom, Former President of PPFA
In 1978, Wattleton became the youngest individual at the time and the first African American woman to serve as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). During Wattleton’s 14–year tenure, PPFA became one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations. Under Wattleton’s leadership, the organization secured federal funding for birth control and prenatal programs; fought against efforts to restrict legal abortions; and, along with reproductive health allies, helped to legalize the sale of abortion pill RU-486 in the United States.
The Coiners of Reproductive Justice
Black women’s existence has inherently challenged the “choice vs. life” argument. However the creation and coining of reproductive justice ushered in a new framework where women of color could express all of the ways their sexual and reproductive autonomy is systemically limited.
Dr. Dorothy Roberts
Author, Scholar, Professor
Dorothy Roberts is an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law. Her books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997) — all of which have shaped and informed scholarship around reproductive justice.
Historian, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of TransGriot
Monica Roberts, aka the TransGriot, is a native Houstonian and trailblazing trans community leader. She works diligently at educating and encouraging acceptance of trans people inside and outside the larger African-American community and is an award-winning blogger, history buff, thinker, lecturer and passionate advocate on trans issues.
Dr. Iva Carruthers
Past President of Urban Outreach Foundation, General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Carruthers uses her ministry as a vehicle for addressing social issues, particularly those involving people of African descent both in the United States and abroad. She is past president of the Urban Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit, interdenominational organization that assists African and African-American communities with education, health care, and community development.
Rev. Dr. Alethea Smith-Withers
Founder and Pastor; The Pavilion of God, Washington, DC; and Chair of the Board of Directors for Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Rev. Smith-Withers has been an active advocate for reproductive justice for many years. She is currently serving as the chair of the board of directors of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). She is the founder and pastor of The Pavilion of God, a Baptist Church in DC. She hosts “Rev UP with Rev. Alethea”, a BlogTalkRadio show.
Rev. Dr. Susan Moore
Associate Minister at All Souls Church Unitarian
Dr. Moore’s ministry has focused upon the challenges facing urban America. An HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention educator and trainer, she has worked with several community and faith-based groups, including the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Planned Parenthood, and AIDS Action Foundation. She actively advocates for a national, coordinated AIDS strategy to reduce racial disparities, lower the incidence of infection, increase access to care, and involve all stakeholders.
CEO and Founder of Dinner with Bevy
A Harlem native and New York fashion fixture, Smith is outspoken about women’s empowerment and social justice. She gives back by connecting and engaging a network of top leaders to promote social change.
Mara Brock Akil
Screenwriter and producer and founder of Akil Productions
Mara Brock Akil is the co-creator of hit TV shows Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane. She is a tireless advocate of women’s health and rights.
American fashion designer
Relentless PPFA supporter, Reese is a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Kimberlé W. Crenshaw
Scholar, Professor at the UCLA and Columbia Schools of Law
Kimberlé W. Crenshaw is a feminist scholar and writer who coined the term “Intersectionality.” Kimberlé is the co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, which developed seminal research on Black women and girls and the school-to-prison pipeline and policing, including, respectively: “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected” and “Say Her Name.”
Co-Director of GetEqual
Serving as the Co-Director of GetEqual, Angela is working to ensure that Black lives and gender justice is a guiding force in LGBTQ work.
Reproductive Justice Leader
Jazmine is a big fine woman who specializes in reproductive justice and agricultural economic development.
Her dedication to public scholarship and activism is driven by a passion to amplify feminist and reproductive justice discourse around Black women and girls, especially those in Mississippi and the broader South.
This Black queer feminist makes us look forward to the next generation of feminist leaders and thinkers.
Her YouTube video, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” clapped-back against the cultural appropriation of Black fashion and style and won our hearts.
Charlene A. Carruthers
National Director for Black Youth Project 100
Political organizer Carruthers is building a national network and local teams of young Black activists. She is committed to racial justice, feminism, and youth leadership development.
Executive Director of SisterSong National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
At SisterSong National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Simpson works to amplify and strengthen the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through securing human rights. She has organized extensively against the systematic physical and emotional violence inflicted upon the minds, bodies, and spirits of African Americans with an emphasis on African-American women and the African-American LGBT community.
Executive Director, Women With A Vision, Inc.
Haywood works tirelessly to improve quality of life and health outcomes for marginalized women of color. Since Hurricane Katrina, Haywood has led Women With a Vision, a New Orleans-based community organization addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman, D-TX 18th District
Congresswoman Jackson Lee has been a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood and women’s health.
This year she has become a valuable champion as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where she was vocal at both hearings displaying a clear understanding of the important role Planned Parenthood health centers play in the communities they serve. She also came to the floor on several occasions and attended a Planned Parenthood’s press conference, lending her voice in the fight against backwards legislation.
Del. Stacey Plaskett
Delegate Stacey Plaskett became a supporter of Planned Parenthood this year when she spoke out for Planned Parenthood health center patients during a Oversight and Government Reform hearing, where she is a member, commenting that she would like a Planned Parenthood health center in the Virgin Islands.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton
As a fierce, passionate, Black feminist and reproductive health advocate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has supported Planned Parenthood unwaveringly. She also sponsored the EACH Woman Act and, in 2015, held an event with young women on abortion access.
Rep. Joyce Beatty
Congresswoman, D-OH 3rd District
Rep. Beatty has been an active supporter of women’s health during her tenure in Congress, cosponsoring legislation, signing onto pro-letters and always voting in the interest of women’s health.
Rep. Maxine Waters
Congresswoman, D-CA 43rd District
Since arriving in office in 1990, Rep. Waters has voted in the best interest of the health of women and communities of color, making a career of addressing these issues by closing the wealth gap.