Black Women Lawmakers and Second-Wave Feminism: An Intersectional Analysis on Generational Cohorts Within Southern State Legislatures from 1990 to 2014

  • Nadia E. Brown
  • Guillermo Caballero
  • Fernando Tormos
  • Allison Wong
  • Sharonda Woodford


While the Second Wave of feminism opened doors for female political activism and for women to be seen as strong political leaders, the movement has been accused of focusing largely on the concerns of white women and generally avoiding the concerns of African American women—who live in a double bind of racial and gender discrimination. In this chapter, Nadia E. Brown, Guillermo Caballero, Fernando Tormos, Allison Wong, and Sharonda Woodford argue that despite criticism of Second-Wave feminists for ignoring the intersection of race and gender, the movement, when viewed in conjunction with the African American Civil Rights Movement proved influential for Black women who came of age during this period, launching a generation of female, African American state political leaders. Specifically, Brown and colleagues examine differences in class and generational cohorts among African American female state legislators from 1990 to 2014. They focus primarily on African American female state legislators in the South since that is where most African Americans live and where female African Americans have had the most electoral success. In order to explicate the ways in which race and gender function in tandem, Brown et al. profile two African American female state legislators from Maryland. From this in-depth case study, the authors are able to provide a more nuanced description of how these two legislators championed policies designed to help the most marginalized people in their community—an approach that allows African American legislators to establish common ground at the crucial intersection of race and gender, highlighting the complexity of Black feminism in the post-Second-Wave era.


Generational Cohort Southern State Legislatures Civil Rights Movement National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Alexandra Filandra of the University of Illinois, Chicago, for sharing the initial dataset used in this project. The authors acknowledge Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, Rosalee Clawson, S. Laurel Weldon, and Leigh Raymond of Purdue University for their guidance. This research has been supported by a generous grant from the Center for the Environment at Purdue University.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadia E. Brown
    • 1
  • Guillermo Caballero
    • 1
  • Fernando Tormos
    • 1
  • Allison Wong
    • 1
  • Sharonda Woodford
    • 1
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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