Oral History

Learning about women through their own voices 

Page Designed By Molly Collins
Research done by Olivia O'Connor

Ella Baker 

          Ella Baker was a leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement. She worked with the NAACP before being one of the founding members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as well as helping to launch both the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She grew up in rural North Carolina and was the granddaughter of a formerly enslaved woman. Throughout her entire life, she fought for racial justice and equality. In this audio recording, she declares “The voice that says life is more sacred than property must be heard!”

Angela Davis 

          Angela Davis is a prominent activist, author, and scholar. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, she was constantly surrounded by racist violence. She has spent her life advocating for the oppressed through her work with the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party. In the 1970’s, she was wrongfully charged with crimes such as murder and was held in prison for 18 months before her acquittal. In this video clip from her time imprisoned, Davis describes her experiences growing up around racist violence.

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Diane Nash 

          It wasn’t until Chicago native Diane Nash moved down south to attend Fisk University that she experienced the depth of racial injustice in America at the time. She became the chairperson for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and organized sit-ins in diners across Nashville. She then became a part of the Freedom Rides movement, which was a protest against segregated Greyhound bus terminals. When she later returned to Chicago, she became an activist for fair housing. In this filmed video interview, Diane Nash talks about her experiences with the Freedom Rides and the Civil Rights Movement.

Audre Lorde

           Audre Lorde was a Black lesbian author/activist who wrote frequently on issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Within her work, she called for racial and social justice, and she wrote openly about her experiences with her sexuality. She won the National Book Award, amongst many other awards and accolades. Lorde’s Sister Outsider collection of essays and poems has become central to many women’s and gender studies teachings. In this audio clip, Lorde describes how there is No Hierarchy of Oppressions. 

Assata Shakur

          Assata Shakur is an author and activist who now resides in Cuba in order to escape persecution in the United States. After moving to New York City for college, Shakur became involved in Black liberation movements. She was a member of the Black Panther Party for about a year before joining the Black Liberation Army. While working with the BLA, she was involved in a shootout between members of the BLA and New Jersey State Police. As a result, she was wrongly convicted on murder charges and sentenced to life in prison. She escaped her imprisonment and fled to Cuba, where she now resides and still continues to be a voice for the oppressed. In this audio clip from a letter Shakur wrote to the then-Pope in the 90s, she explains her reasoning for her activism and her life’s actions.

Time : 2:13 to 7:40

“Angela Davis.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 23 Apr. 2021, https://www.biography.com/activist/angela-davis.

“Audre Lorde .” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/audre-lorde.

“Ella Baker.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 4 May 2021, https://www.biography.com/activist/ella-baker.

Meares, Hadley. “Six Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 5 Feb. 2018, https://www.history.com/news/six-unsung-heroines-of-the-civil-rights-movement.

Scott, Terry Anne. Assata Olugbala Shakur (1947- ) •, 15 July 2019, https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/assata-olugbala-shakur-1947/.