Keeping Black Women at the Center

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 2
Words: 271
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

The third piece presents a conversation between Gloria T. Hull and Barbara Smith — two editors of But Some of Us Are Brave (1982). Two scholars share experiences about educational paths and how their backgrounds influenced their views and careers in academia. Although Hull attended a southern Black university and Smith went to a white women’s college, they both pointed out that systematic sexism and racism were holding back research on black women at that time (Hull & Smith, 1982). Thus, the lack of black women’s studies in the school curricula motivated the activists to further develop their topics.

When the book was compiled at the end of the 1970s, the Black Women Movement was already actively growing and strengthening in the US. Therefore, But Some of Us Are Brave resonated within the professional community and was a tribute to Black women’s activism. Along with the institutionalization of black women’s studies, interest in this topic increased inside and outside academia. By the time the collection was published in 1982, the number of courses in Black women’s studies had increased markedly. In addition, an increasing number of students express their interest in tackling racial and gender inequality within the walls of educational institutions.

Hull and Smith have high hopes for the role of education and, more specifically, black studies programs in changing attitudes towards the scholarship on women of color. Furthermore, although many white researchers remain conservative about developing black women’s studies, the situation is gradually changing in educational institutions in America and the world.

Question: How did the scholars’ background and their experience as activists affect the writing of the book?


Smith, B., Hull, G., & Scott, P. B. (1982). “Keeping black women at the center”: A conversation between Gloria t. Hull and Barbara Smith. Off Our Backs, 12(5), 22–23.