Barbara Smith is an author, activist, and independent scholar who has played a groundbreaking role in opening up a national dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. She was among the first to define an African American women's literary tradition and to build black women's studies and black feminism in the United States. She has been politically active in many movements for social justice since the 1960s. Currently, her focus is on neighborhood and community organizing, especially regarding youth issues, in the poor black community where she resides.
From the time she was in high school and became involved in Cleveland's civil rights struggle, Barbara Smith has been an untiring political activist, doing both direct-action work and writing to bring about social change. Smith has worked to end sterilization abuse, to insure reproductive freedom and quality health care for all women, to end apartheid in South Africa, to stop US-funded warfare against indigenous people of Central and South America, to challenge police brutality, to eradicate violence against women, and to challenge homophobia and heterosexism. One of her earliest causes established the first publishing house run by women of color and committed to publishing work by diverse women of color, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Because she has dedicated herself to causes, she has always lived in precarious financial circumstances. Further, as an outspoken and courageous black lesbian feminist, Barbara's physical safety has always been at issue; most recently her home was vandalized when she spoke out about police and political corruption in Albany, New York, where she has lived since 1984. As a leader in articulating all political, economic, and social issues as inherently black women's issues, Barbara has forever changed progressive political discourse. As a founder of Kitchen Table, she brought the writing of women of color into print and to public attention. She established an entire academic discourse–black feminist criticism–that has had a profound effect on scholars and students. Further, black women's studies is an acknowledged discipline because of her work as an editor of the groundbreaking collection of work in black women's studies ("All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies", 1982).
Albany's Stand for Peace Antiracism Committee Coalition for Accountable Police and Government Justice for Diallo Committee