This Day in History

Sept. 29, 1951: “A Call to Negro Women” Sojourners for Truth and Justice

Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: African American, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Women's History

Louise Thompson Patterson. German Federal Archives via Creative Commons.

On September 29, 1951, a decade before the March on Washington, a group of Black women known as the Sojourners for Truth and Justice convened in Washington D.C. to advocate for their rights.

The group had published a manifesto titled “A Call To Negro Women” where they stated their grievances at racial terrorism, along with South African apartheid, U.S. militarism, and colonialism. They focused on their identities as mothers, sisters, wives, and women in their experiences with racial violence and prejudice.

The Sojourners for Truth and Justice aimed to expose the state’s role in violence against Black women. The group was filled with prominent Black activists, such as Louise Thompson Patterson, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and Charlotta Bass.

The organization was known for its communist, Black nationalist, and intersectional feminist ideology, causing many of the leaders to be under fire during the Red Scare. Along with the other members, Louise Thompson Patterson was harassed by the government and had her passport seized, the pressure eventually causing the group to dissolve.

Learn More

Read a zine by Ashley Farmer and Mariame Kaba with essays about the significance of the Sojourners for Truth and Justice in the development of Black feminism and the legacy of Black women freedom fighters. The zine was designed by Jordan De Loach.  The zine can be viewed online here.

“A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood, of White Supremacy, of Peace” by Beulah Richardson. Read poem here.

To bring Patterson’s story into the classroom, download the lesson, “Subversives: Stories from the Red Scare.”

This entry was prepared by Lila Chafe.