Saturday, February 28, 2015

MLK's Mother Was Assassinated, Too: The Forgotten Women Of Black History Month


On June 30th, 1974, Alberta Williams King was gunned down while she played the organ for the “Lord’s Prayer” at Ebenezer Baptist Church. As a Christian civil rights activist, she was assassinated...just like her son, Martin Luther King, Jr. But most people remember only one.
Read more.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth

If you only have time to read one book during Women's History Month (March), I highly recommend this one by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor.

"This classic exploration of the Goddess through time and throughout the world draws on religious, cultural, and archaeological sources to recreate the Goddess religion that is humanity’s heritage. This passionate and important text shows even more clearly that the religion of the Goddess--which is tied to the cycles of women’s bodies, the seasons, the phases of the moon, and the fertility of the earth--was the original religion of all humanity."

From School Library Journal

YA This long-awaited reference book is an important addition for students studying women's ancient history and the roots of religion. Sjoo and Mor describe the great spiral of cultural movement that began ``in the beginning . . .with a very female sea,'' and continued into Neolithic times. They show how our brains have been emptied of women's cultural history, and then they begin to piece together, detail by detail, that history. This does not lend itself to cover-to-cover reading, but it is a worthy book to discover while researching the roots of religion and/or the history of women as creators of culture. Readers will get a varied taste of world symbols, obscure myths, dazzling images, and formidable goddesses which will allow them to see connections that they might otherwise miss in current culture. The black-and-white illustrations include sketches, photographs, and reproductions of Goddess sites worldwide and ancient artifacts and culture. While libraries with women's studies' collections and schools in which students study cultural history will need this book, it is also an engaging book to browse through, and belongs on the shelves of any library.Lucia Bettler, formerly of Waltrip High School, Houston Independent School District

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Failure of Christianity by Emma Goldman

This fascinating essay was published by Emma Goldman in her Mother Earth Journal in April 1913.

Here are a few excerpts that stayed with me:

"No doubt I will be told that, though religion is a poison and institutionalized Christianity the greatest enemy of progress and freedom, there is some good in Christianity "itself." What about the teachings of Christ and early Christianity, I may be asked; do they not stand for the spirit of humanity, for right and justice?

It is precisely this oft-repeated contention that induced me to choose this subject, to enable me to demonstrate that the abuses of Christianity, like the abuses of government, are conditioned in the thing itself, and are not to be charged to the representatives of the creed. Christ and his teachings are the embodiment of submission, of inertia, of the denial of life; hence responsible for the things done in their name."

"Heaven must be an awfully dull place if the poor in spirit live there. How can anything creative, anything vital, useful and beautiful come from the poor in spirit? The idea conveyed in the Sermon on the Mount is the greatest indictment against the teachings of Christ, because it sees in the poverty of mind and body a virtue, and because it seeks to maintain this virtue by reward and punishment. Every intelligent being realizes that our worst curse is the poverty of the spirit; that it is productive of all evil and misery, of all the injustice and crimes in the world. Every one knows that nothing good ever came or can come of the poor in spirit; surely never liberty, justice, or equality."

"Much as I am opposed to every religion, much as I think them an imposition upon, and crime against, reason and progress, I yet feel that no other religion had done so much harm or has helped so much in the enslavement of man as the religion of Christ.

 Witness Christ before his accusers. What lack of dignity, what lack of faith in himself and in his own ideas! So weak and helpless was this "Savior of Men" that he must needs the whole human family to pay for him, unto all eternity, because he "hath died for them." Redemption through the Cross is worse than damnation, because of the terrible burden it imposes upon humanity, because of the effect it has on the human soul, fettering and paralyzing it with the weight of the burden exacted through the death of Christ."

from "The Failure of Christianity"  by Emma Goldman

You can read the entire essay here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why Malcolm X Is Getting Written Out of History by Karen Bartlett

“If it is easier for the political establishment to embrace Martin Luther King’s doctrine than to look into the mirror of the consequences of racial oppression and justice held up to the world by Malcolm X, the political reality annoys Ilyasah: “Why can’t these people just have a backbone and invite Malcolm? I mean, what is the big deal? Put a bust up of Malcolm X. Let’s tell the truth about Malcolm X,” she says.

Shabazz was there on the afternoon of 21 February 1965 when her father was shot more than 20 times by followers of his former organisation, the Nation of Islam. She was sitting alongside her three small sisters, and her mother, who was pregnant with twin girls. At two and a half years old, Shabazz says she remembers nothing of the terrifying events of that day, but she does remember something of her father himself: “I remember a big, tall, beautiful person with these big teeth. And I remember my doll that he’d given me, and I remember my rocking chair. I remember his voice.”

What she remembers most about her father is love; something she knows not often associated with his public representation as an angry militant separatist. While Malcolm, born El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, advocated discipline, self reliance and pride in the black community and his African roots, he never supported violence, she says – only telling his followers that they were entitled to defend themselves in the face of the horrific assaults and murders that black people faced on a daily basis. After he left the Nation of Islam in 1964, he embraced Sunni Islam and evolved his stance on topics as wide ranging as women’s rights, interracial marriage, and the possibility of people of all races and colours working together against injustice in a common brotherhood. 

At the time of his death he was no longer Malcolm X, preaching to black urban ghettos, but Malcolm the global revolutionary, who had brought together an alliance of African and Middle Eastern leaders in support of his new Organization of Afro-American Unity, and who was intent on pressing his human rights claims against the US government at the United Nations. 

It was an evolution lost on most of mainstream America, however, who remembered the man who once said, “The common enemy is the white man,” reminded black Americans that it was within their legal rights to buy a shotgun, and said president Kennedy’s assassination was a case of “chickens coming home to roost”. After his murder, The New York Times called him an “extraordinary and twisted man” who had turned his gifts to “evil purpose”, while TIME denounced him a demagogue whose “creed was violence”.
Malcolm’s image has been tampered with, just as Dr King’s image was tampered with,” Ilyasah says. Her father needed to use strong language, she believes, to wake people up to what black Americans faced. “He used that shock factor,” she says. “It wasn’t that he thought white people were the devil – not all white people. He had to use these extreme measures because he was trying to uplift people. And so he educated a mis-educated people – and by that I mean all of America.”

Read the full article by Karen Bartlett on Newsweek.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please include more women!

My letter to the Who Is...?/Who Was...? series

I have been working through the women of the Who Was series with my 8-year-old daughter and we LOVE it. We are nearly finished, with great sadness and hope that you will consider adding more women.  Because nearly all education focuses on HIStory, I have decided to teach my daughter the opposite way: HERstory with men in the background.

Currently, it looks like only 1/4th of your books are about women.  I'd love to see it be at least half to right some of the wrongs women have experienced in being largely written out of HIStory.  Every time we finish a book, I end up in tears - because these are NOT stories I grew up reading about. 

Emma Goldman, Ida Wells and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are just a few suggestions.

Thank you for your consideration,
Trista Hendren

Please join me in making a similar request to this series.  Their web address is  and it looks like there are also some cool features/games that I was unaware of.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fight the Power: 100 Sheroes of Native Resistance, Women Warriors

Illustration of Fallen Leaf from “The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth,” by James Beckwourth and edited by Thomas D. Bonner, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, 1856.

Too often the battles fought by our American Indian warriors in history involve the acts of valor committed by men. However, these same types of acts performed by the women warriors of the past hold no less merit.

For this reason, we have put together a list of Native women warriors who stood their ground.

Pine Leaf (Woman Chief)

Though Pine Leaf was known as a Crow Warrior, she was born into the Gros Ventre Nation. She was captured by the Crow Nation at about age 10, so grew up Crow. Known as a fierce warrior who garnered prestige in battle, she eventually gained position on the council of chiefs as a war leader and hunter. She was later named “Woman Chief,” and like many of her fellow male chiefs, also took several wives—though many references cite as many as four wives—exact numbers aren’t verified. Regardless, those marriages have made her an icon in the two-spirit community.

Read more from this article by Vincent Shilling at

Friday, February 13, 2015

Meet the Witches, Lesbian Separatists, and Other Brave Feminists Who Shook Up the '60s and '70s

"You don't make change by being polite and folding your hands."

While voting rights were key for the first wave of feminism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reproductive rights took center stage during the second wave of the '60s and '70s, as women fought for better access to contraceptives and safe abortions. "She's Beautiful When She's Angry," a new documentary that will have its Bay Area premiere on Feb. 6, explores some of the second-wave movement's lesser-known moments.
The 92-minute film hones in on the complex and sometimes wild history of the women's struggle between 1966 and 1971, using archival footage and interviews with a diverse cast of activists. Some memorable voices in the film include a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which fought to legalize abortion and end discriminatory employment practices, as well as a member of the Furies, a short-lived lesbian separatist group in Washington that shunned men. "I wanted to do a film that was in your face and maybe even rude, because that's how the women's movement was," says director Mary Dore, who interviewed dozens of women activists from the era. "You don't make change by being polite and folding your hands—it doesn't work that way."
Read the full article by  at Mother Jones.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Red Tent has a history, but what it is? By Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather

Was there a Red Tent in history?
Why do women need Red Tents?
There’s a Red Tent movement, where?
How am I a part of it?

Learn the surprising history of the Red tent. A new eBook & Audiobook titled “The Red Tent Movement: A Historical Perspective” by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD and ALisa Starkweather.  

An excerpt from the eBook:
There are thousands of women across the globe who are bringing forth their gifts as Red Tent leaders in their communities. Women who are standing in their power are essential to shifting present paradigms; these pioneers are a balm to an ailing world. But after years of oppression, how do women rise up out of trauma to remember the beauty that lives at one’s core? How do we strip away that which prevents us from rising as wise female leaders? This reclamation work is what many are a part of because when we find our voices, our inspired action, and our needed vision then we stand a better chance at creating a world we can thrive in. And it is with this spirit that the Red Tent movement has flourished as a global phenomenon. 

Most women have heard of the Red Tent because they read the book. The Red Tent was novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 that gave us a story of women who come together in a menstrual hut, known as the Red Tent. In the story, Diamant retells the biblical rape story of Dinah. “The Rape of Dinah” (Genesis, chapter 34) was recounted not by Dinah, but by her brothers. Diamant provided a fictional feminist retelling of the tale, giving Dinah her own voice. The book is presented through Dinah’s eyes and those of the women around her. The story showed us how the women raised young daughters who were taught the secrets held for women by women through initiation, stories, and relationships. For many, the story resonated deeply and caused us to question if there was a place like this in our society.

The Red Tent novel originally did not have a great impact on women’s lives. This began to change when the author herself initiated a word-of-mouth campaign by giving copies away to Rabbis, female Christian leaders, and independent booksellers. This approach proved successful, and by 2002 The Red Tent had become a New York Times bestseller and a publishing phenomenon. The book has since been published in twenty-five countries and translated into twenty languages.

Following the success of the book, Diamant’s number one question from her readers was whether or not the Red Tent ever existed. Here is her quoted response from her website:

It’s important to note that I have never claimed that the women of the Bible actually used a menstrual hut; there is no historical evidence to support such a claim. However, since there have been menstrual tents and huts throughout the pre-modern world, it seemed historically plausible to give them one. The importance of the tent developed in the process of writing, but the idea of making it a place of community, rest, and celebration predates [the book]. Some years prior to starting the book, I heard a lecture by a Jewish writer…who suggested rethinking a biblical law that required separation of a woman from the community for 60 days after the birth of a girl compared to 30 days after the birth of a boy…. This could be seen as a reflection of the notion that girl babies made mothers more "unclean" than boys. The lecturer asked us to consider a different theory, which was far more interesting to me. Perhaps, he said, this was an acknowledgment that giving birth to a birth-giver was a more sacred, a more powerful experience. The extra month could be seen not as a punishment, but as a reward.

Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions show us that the Red Tent has a history: The idea of a separate women’s space or menstrual hut is not a new idea. Anita Diamant claims that the Red Tent in her book was fictionalized, but is rooted in research from Africa. Menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions shape women’s understanding of the Red Tent as a women’s power space. There are menstrual hut and moon lodge traditions all over the world that date back to 800 C.E and in some places are still practiced today. These spaces offer a unique view of the Red Tent, but do they reinforce or contradict patriarchal oppression?

To READ MORE or for an audio sample of this excerpt or to purchase the eBook/audiobook visit:

About the Authors:

Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, PhD is trained as a both a filmmaker, a textile historian, and a feminist folklorist. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She wants to create world where women believe they can accomplish anything and where they have the courage to change the world. She creates multi-media (films, videos, websites, and other designs) to inspire YOU and improve your life! She believes in creating a world that promotes cooperation rather than competition and believes in the value of sisterhood and women’s community. She has a deep love of textile traditions, which is why she has made 13 documentary films about women & fabric. Her award-winning, internationally known red tent movie “Things We Don’t Talk About,” has been keeping her very busy doing hundreds and hundreds of screenings & facilitating life-changing women’s events.

ALisa Starkweather is the founder of the Red Tent Temple Movement, Daughters of the Earth Gatherings, Women in Power initiations, Priestess Path women’s mystery school, the online Fierce Feminine Life series, and the Women’s Belly and Womb Conference. ALisa is also in the award winning anthology, Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership; Where Grace Meets Power. She has been facilitating women’s empowerment for three decades of her life. 

This article may not be re-published without permission from the authors. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

[i] Diamant, Anita. Website. Accessed Sunday November 1, 2009.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Rosa Parks' Other (Radical) Side by Mary C. Curtis

"Rosa Parks was a demure seamstress who defied a Montgomery, Ala., bus driver's order to give up her seat to a white man because -- on that particular day -- she was tired. Her spontaneous act sparked a 1955 bus boycott that launched the civil rights movement.
Sound familiar? It should. It's the tale told in history books. It's also just a tiny sliver of the truth. The flesh-and-blood Rosa Parks is a lot more interesting. "It's sad, I think," author Danielle L. McGuire told me. "We tend to like our heroes simple and meek."

"If we had a larger sense of who she was, a radical activist and warrior for human rights," instead of a powerless individual struck by chance, said McGuire, it would show the work and the time she put in over many years."

Read the full article by by Mary C. Curtis on

Monday, February 2, 2015

How would our lives change if we could witness the full expanse of female power and achievement? - Max Dashu

Questions and dialogues emerge, as womenMachi leading a Nguillatun ceremony, Chile increase our understanding of where we stand in the larger global picture. How would our lives change if we could witness the full expanse of female power and achievement? the lodge-building mothers, food providers, foragers and farmers and fishers, the mother-tech inventors of biochemical technologies of cooking, leavening, smoking, drying; the weavers and potters and painters of cosmic signs, the culture-makers; the female elders, ceremonial leaders, seers, and medicine women; the rebels, warriors, liberators, and change-makers. We still have so much to learn.

-Max Dashu

Read the full post at Suppressed Histories