Rebel Women*: From the 1960s to the Present

Organizers and Moderators: Mónica Jiménez and Nicole Burrowes
Panelists: Iris Morales (Red Sugarcane Press), Paula Rojas (Mana Sana), M Adams (Freedom Inc.), Robyn Spencer (Brooklyn College, CUNY)

This intergenerational panel will be a dialogue from the perspective of rebel women who have been active in movements from the 1960s through to the present. They will discuss their own individual trajectories, historical movements that continue to shape our struggles today, and comment on the current moment. Panelists will also consider how Black and Latinx feminist concerns have shaped broad-based movements for social justice, the possibilities and challenges of coalitional politics, the role of students and the university in movement-building, and the meaning of liberation in this time.

*The title hails from Iris Morales’ book Through the Eyes of Rebel Women. 

Dr. Nicole A. Burrowes is an Assistant Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas, Austin. She has affiliations in the John L. Warfield Center, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, and the Department of History. Her research interests include histories of racialization and colonialism, social justice movements, Black transnationalism, and the politics of solidarity. Her book project, Seeds of Solidarity: African-Indian Relations and the 1935 Labor Rebellions in British Guiana, explores the historical possibility of a movement forged by those at the edge of empire in the midst of economic and environmental crisis. She has recently completed articles on teaching the civil rights movement, and on Black and Brown feminist organizing in New York City. Nicole has served as Assistant Director for the Schomburg-Mellon Summer Humanities Institute at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem where she supported underrepresented students to pursue graduate studies related to Africa and the African Diaspora. Beyond academia, Nicole draws on an extensive portfolio of experience in documentary film and community organizing.

Dr. Mónica A. Jiménez is an assistant professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Her teaching and research explores the intersections of law, race and nationalism in U.S. empire building in Latin America and the Caribbean. Her book manuscript, American State of Exception: Race and Law in the Making of Puerto Rico, offers a legal history of race and exception in United States empire building and centers on the place of Puerto Rico within that larger historical trajectory. Dr. Jiménez has received fellowships in support of her work from the Ford Foundation, the Puerto Rican Studies Association, the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, and the Summer Institute for Tenure and Professional Advancement at Duke University. She holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law.

Iris Morales is an activist and educator dedicated to human rights, racial and gender justice, and the decolonization of Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, she joined recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and continues to collaborate with activists and artists on the island. Her love of community, history, and storytelling led to creating Red Sugarcane Press in 2012 to publish books about the Latinx Diaspora. Ms. Morales is a contributing writer and the editor of Latinas: Struggles and Protests in 21st Century USA. She is the author of Through the Eyes of Rebel Women, The Young Lords: 1969 to 1976, and the producer/director of ¡Palante Siempre Palante, The Young Lords!, the award-winning documentary which premiered on national public television and continues to introduce student and community audiences to US social justice movements. Ms. Morales was a leading member of the Young Lords Party for five years, and co-founder of the Women’s Caucus and the affiliated Women’s Union.Ms. Morales holds a JD from the NYU School of Law and an MFA in Integrated Media Arts.

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Paula X. Rojas is a community organizer, licensed midwife and social justice trainer. She was born in Chile, grew up in Houston, TX, spent over a decade working as a community organizer in Brooklyn, NY, and has spent the last decade supporting the training and development of community organizers and their organizations working on a range of social justice issues here in Austin, TX. For over 25 years, she has worked on issues of gender violence, racial justice, women’s reproductive health, childcare access, health care access and community alternatives to policing. Rojas co-founded a number of community-based organizations working at the intersections of race, class and gender including Sista II Sista, Pachamama, Mamas of Color Rising, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, Refugio: Center for Community Organizing and the New York Organizing Support Center. She is currently working with Mama Sana-Vibrant Woman putting a more just and loving maternal health model into practice.

Paula is a contributor to the INCITE! collections: The Color of Violence and The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. She co-authored the recent report by the National Perinatal Taskforce: Building a Movement to Birth a More Just and Loving World, that lays out local models and national recommendations to address current crisis in maternal and infant mortality in communities of color in the U.S. She is the mother of two amazing kids, Xue-li and Camino, and loves to dance!

M Adams is a Black-gay-working class-gender-non-conforming wimmin, community organizer, scientist, and thought leader–Adams is currently co-executive director of Freedom Inc. Freedom Inc. works with low to no income survivors who are Black, Khmer and Hmong wimmin, queer folks and youth to end violence within and against their communities. Here she earned a decade of experience in building collective power with Black and Southeast Asian communities, intergenerational organizing, and creating grassroots campaigns that create real on-the-ground solutions to both interpersonal and systemic violence toward ending gender based violence.

Though locally focused, Adams’ work has reached international scale and impact. Adams has developed and advocated for a strong intersectional approach in numerous important venues; Adams is a leading figure in the Movement 4 Black Lives and the Take Back the Land Movement, she presented before the United Nations for the Convention on Eliminating Racial Discrimination, is co-Author of Forward from Ferguson, and the Wisconsin Law Review on Black Community Control Over Police, and author to intersectionality theory in Why Killing Unarmed Black folks is a Queer issue.

Most recently, Adams can be seen in person, on TV or in the newspapers giving near weekly presentations, leading empowerment groups for survivors, testifying at city council meetings, and energizing crowds at protests.

Dr. Robyn C. Spencer is a historian that focuses on Black social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. In 2018-2019 she is Women’s and Gender Studies Visiting Endowed Chair at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

Her first book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, on gender and the organizational evolution of the Black Panther Party in Oakland was a finalist for the “Benjamin Hooks Institute National Book Award” sponsored by the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and received Honorable Mention for the Letitia Woods Brown Book Prize sponsored by the Association of Black Women’s Historians.

She is co-founder of the Intersectional Black Panther Party History Project and has written widely on gender and Black Power. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Women’s History and Souls as well as The Washington Post, Vibe Magazine, Colorlines, and Truthout. She has received awards for her work from the Mellon foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Association of Black Women Historians.