My full-length interview with Chally, who talks about her love of sci-fi, why it's problematic to have feminist "icons," her experience as a teen in social justice movement, and of course, the internet! (The post title is tongue-in-cheek, by the way, she's anything but, as you'll see.)
While studying the Civil Rights Movement during college, somewhere along the way I heard about a young woman who, as one prof put it, "sat before Rosa Parks sat." However, this nameless woman was ultimately deemed "unfit" to serve as the test case to trigger the Montgomery boycott, which would precipitate the Movement. Why was she considered unfit? Well, as the story went, the young woman (actually a 15-year-old girl) became pregnant by an older, married man, and so the more reputable Rosa Parks took center stage. Read on to find out more about Claudette Colvin's "forgotten contribution."
A few years ago, I found a book-length literary magazine, Conditions:Five, amongst the discarded and donated books on the shelves in a local coffeehouse. I skimmed through it that day, just long enough to finish my cup of chai, before placing it back on the shelf. At the time, I had no idea that I'd held such a rich piece of history in my hands.
The leaders of the [women's suffrage] movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, 'An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and niggers!""I told you so!" "Go it, darkey!" . . Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."
--First-wave feminist Frances Gage, reflecting on the occasion of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech