Honoring Reproductive Justice Founders during Black History Month

Honoring Reproductive Justice Founders during Black History Month

During this Black History Month and year-round, the National Health Law Program commits to following the principles of reproductive justice theory and honors the founders of this movement. We understand that achieving reproductive justice is central to Black and global liberation. 

We say their names: Dr. Toni M. Bond Leonard, Reverend Alma Crawford, Evelyn S. Field, Terri James, Bisola Marignay, Cassandra McConnell, Cynthia Newbille, Lorretta Ross, Elizabeth Terry, ‘Able’ Mable Thomas, Winnette P. Willis, and Kim Youngblood. This group of Black women created the reproductive justice framework because they were frustrated by the ways that health and reproductive rights were siloed from other social justice issues important to Black women – like poverty, the environment, and more broadly, health care access. They sought to highlight how BIPOC communities, particularly Black Women, experience multiple oppressions which requires a multi-pronged, human rights centered and equity-focused set of responses. 

Through our equity stance, NHeLP holds itself accountable for helping to build systems that eliminate discriminatory barriers to health, disrupt harmful stereotypes, and promote health equity. We also follow the lead of legal scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality,” by acknowledging that various forms of discrimination intersect people’s multiple identities in ways that affect their health and wellbeing. At NHeLP, we continuously examine the health care system and advocate for health laws and policies that counteract structural barriers, institutional power dynamics, and examples of overt discrimination and implicit bias that create health inequity. We believe that Black Lives Matter. 

Thank you to the founders of the reproductive justice movement. We are indebted to your vision and socio-political analysis. We celebrate you during this Black History Month and commit to practicing what you have taught us in our current and future work.

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