For all of my sisters involved in the work of organizing for justice and freedom, please, if you would, take a moment to read this as a favor to me because it’s too hard for me to hold alone this morning when I can’t stop thinking about freedom fighter, Mae Mallory, a leader of the Harlem 9, a radical Black organizer who pushed to end unfair conditions in New York’s segregated school, a woman who risked her life and freedom in supporting her friend, Robert F. Williams, leader of the North Carolina NAACP and staunch advocate for armed Black self-defense.
Ms. Mae, present when they executed Minister Malcolm, mentored a woman who would later mentor me, Yuri Kochiyama, and at dinner with my Godmother, Safiya Bandele, this week, she shared that when Ms. Mae was near death she said, “I gonna die a Black woman, fat, alone, unloved and unacknowledged.”
It wasn’t as true as she thought it was, but I know the feeling and I know women who have had this feeling, this sense, that their lives and their work will be unaccounted for, disremembered when not disparaged and dismissed. I see this happen in the work all the time and too often by people who say that they are our comrades in struggle, or in the very least, share our worldview.
This is not the only battle we need to engage, but it is one of the most important: ensuring that those who are doing the work and giving the world everything they have to make it more livable are not dismissed by louder, often snarkier voices. Mae Mallory. I #SayHerName.
(Photo Credit: http://zinnedproject.org) (Video Credit: Vimeo / Schomburg Center Black Freedom Studies)