The Life of Angela Davis

By Tatiahna Turner

Born Angela Yvonne Davis on January 26, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama she is best known as an African-American political activist and for her relations to the Black Panther Party.

Davis grew up in a middle class neighborhood that was nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” due to the amount of African-American homes in the area that were bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. She was aware and affected by racial prejudice from her experiences with discrimination while growing up in Alabama. As a teenager, Davis organized interracial study groups that were broken up by the police. Davis’ mother Sallye, taught in an elementary school and was also an active member of the NAACP. Davis pursued higher education at Brandeis University where she studied philosophy, and then later, as a graduate student she attended the University of California, San Diego.

In 1969, Davis accepted a position as an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). At this time she was known to world as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party USA, and an associate of the Black Panther Party. Davis was fired from her job at UCLA due to her ties and beliefs with the Communist Party, but was then rehired after a judge ruled that she could not be fired solely due to her relations with them. A short while later, on June 20, 1970, Davis was let go from her position at UCLA again, but this time the reason was “inflammatory language” that she used during speeches. The report written for her dismissal stated, “We deem particularly offensive such utterances as her statement that the regents ‘killed, brutalized (and) murdered’ the People’s Park demonstrators, and her repeated characterizations of the police as ‘pigs’.”

Angela Davis was a strong supporter of the Soledad Brothers, who were three inmates accused of killing a guard at the Soledad Prison. As reported by FamPeople, the incident that took place was as follows: “On August 7, 1970, Jonathan Jackson, a heavily armed, 17-year-old African-American high-school student, gained control over a courtroom in Marin County, California. Once in the courtroom, Jackson armed the black defendants and took Judge Harold Haley, the prosecutor, and three female jurors as hostages. As Jackson transported the hostages and two black convicts away from the courtroom, the police began shooting at the vehicle. The judge, one of the jurors, the prosecutor, and the three black men were killed in the melee. Davis had purchased the firearms used in the attack, including the shotgun used to kill Haley, which had been bought two days prior and the barrel sawed off. She had also written numerous letters found in the prison cell of one of the murderers. Since California considers “all persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense… principals in any crime so committed,” San Marin County Superior Judge Peter Allen Smith charged Davis with “aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley” and issued a warrant for her arrest. Hours after the judge issued the warrant on August 14, 1970 a massive attempt to arrest Angela Davis began. On August 18, 1970, four days after the initial warrant was issued, the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover made Angela Davis the third woman to appear on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.”

Davis fled from California and, according to her autobiography, hid in the homes of close friends. She was captured on October 13, 1970. On June 4, 1972 after 13 hours of deliberation Davis was found not guilty by an all-white jury. They decided that her owning the guns used in the crime was not enough evidence to convict her. After years of traveling and lecturing, Davis returned to the US where she taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz until her retirement in 2008. In 2017, Davis attended the Women’s March on Washington as a featured speaker and was made honorary co-chair.

The Perseverance of Pam Grier

By Dasha Matthews

Pam Grier is known to the world as an iconic African-American actress. Many know her from Blaxploitation films such as Foxy Brown, but she has contributed much more to the African-American society than just entertainment. Grier endured many hardships during her childhood and adult life that led her to become the strong and inspiring feminist that she is today.

At the age of 6, Grier was raped by two older boys when she was left alone at her Aunt’s home. In an interview given while on her book tour, Pam spoke briefly on the incident saying, “It took so long to deal with the pain of that… You try to deal with it, but you never really get over it. And not just me; my family endured so much guilt and anger that something like that happened to me.” Grier was then a victim of date rape at the age of 18. She said that she had not told anyone about either of these incidents until she wrote the memoir. When speaking about her decision to reveal what happened to her she said, “I wanted others out there to understand the emotional trauma that is involved in sexual aggression and abuse and that not all of us get over it or even survive the abuse. I have that opportunity to speak about this as the icon—the object and let others know that in spite of it all, I am still here.”

In 1988 Grier was diagnosed with stage-four cervical cancer. In an interview, Grier states, “They couldn’t operate or start treatment for another six weeks… They gave me only 16-18 months to live and was told to start preparing for treatment and to organize my will.” Grier says that she coped with her diagnosis “minute to minute” and that her recovery was possible through the combination of chemotherapy and her doctor’s recommendation of a Chinese herbalist who prescribed her “herbs and tinctures.”

Despite all of the trials and tribulations that Grier endured, she persevered and used each experience as a teaching lesson. She fought from the beginning of her career for the independence and free expression of women. In another interview, Grier states, “And what the (feminist) movement was saying was to be independent on your own. And I realized that is what I was going to have to do, no matter what trauma went on in my life. Women could still survive and they must have independence and not be co-dependent, which is what society was teaching women to be”

You can follow this link to read more about her life.


Scholarship Opportunity – National Conference for College Women Student Leaders

By Ann Varner

Are you interested in developing your leadership skills? Are you passionate about taking action in your community and being a change-maker? If so, pick up an application from the Women’s Center for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

The Scholarship

Every year the American Association of University Women (AAUW) provides a scholarship of up to $1,000 to a female student to attend the three-day conference at the University of Maryland. This year, the conference will be held from May 30 to June 2, 2018. The scholarship covers most of the expenses of the trip (including most meals, room accommodations, and travel). The goal of the conference is to “provide a transformative experience for attendees and prepare them to be the next generation of leaders” (AAUW). With over 50 leadership-building sessions, guest speakers, a job fair, and meeting the “fiercest trailblazers” of today, this opportunity is one you don’t want to miss.

NCCWSL History

The AAUW National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) was founded in 1983. At a time when the gender gap in leadership was not closing fast enough, the AAUW and other organizations organized this conference as a leadership meeting for college women to gain “the skills and confidence they need to make change.” According to their website, past attendees have, “gone on to lead nonprofits, innovate the corporate world, create disruptive technologies, and more.”

To find out more, visit their website:

Deadline to apply is 12:00 p.m., Monday, March 12.

If you have any questions or concerns contact Arzie Umali at or 816-235-5577.

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Reusable Menstrual Pads

By Korrien Hopkins

We at the Women’s Center recently received a very kind donation of reusable menstrual pads. Although I’ve never used them, I was curious to research their benefits.

So here’s what I found:

1. They are environmentally friendly.

The average American woman will use 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, tampons, and panty-liners in her lifetime. With the manufacturing, packaging, and transportation this creates a substantial amount of waste of just getting these products from the factory to stores. This creates a lot of waste in our landfills! Sad but true: the most common trash items found on North American beaches are plastic tampon applicators so this is clearly a big issue we’re having.

In today’s current environmental situation using something once is not enough! When you choose to reuse anything from dishes to towels, you’re helping make a cultural shift that values quality over wastefulness.

2. They are healthier than single-use pads.

I read that they can reduce menstrual cramps, definitely a plus for me. They also can reduce infections and skin rashes because they are more breathable than single-use pads that have plastic lining.

The plastics, synthetic fibers, wool pulp, chlorine, synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances and pesticides, and herbicide ridden cotton used in disposable menstrual products can lead to allergic reactions, hormone disruption, reproductive disorders, and even cancer.

3. You’ll save money.

Cloth pads can last years and assuming most women menstruate for about 40 years, and spends about $8 every other month on single-use pads, it eventually adds up to $1,920 over her lifetime. If she’s using a pack a month, that’s $3,840. Just imagine what you could do with that money!

4. You’ll support small businesses.

From my personal opinion the farther you get from these popular brands the healthier you’ll be.

And why not support small businesses?

5. They are sanitary and wont leak!

This was one of my biggest questions while researching and from what I read, they are very sanitary, easy to clean, and many have a waterproof lining inside to prevent leaking.


If this motivates you to try reusable menstrual pads swing by the Womens Center and we will hook you up! (We do have a limited supply of donations so your promptness is important.)

See you soon!

Wanted: Women in Science

By Ann Varner

Every Monday a group of women and I meet for our Women in Science (WiSci) meeting. This group of diverse women have become the highlight of my Mondays. We all have different majors ranging from chemistry to political science, but that doesn’t stop us. We do many activities on campus including volunteering, hosting lunches with women in science, attending science, technology, engineering, and mathematics panel discussions, and talking about Game of Thrones and our lives in general.

If you have any interest in being a part of the UMKC campus life or just getting together with a great group of women, feel free to attend a meeting in the UMKC Women’s Center on Mondays from 2-3. It’s a common fact that the science field is dominated by males, so it’s nice to find other feminists and women to get more involved.

Contact Diamond Anderson for more information.



Black History Month Recognizes Eartha Kitt (1927-2008)

By: Tatiahna Turner

Eartha Mae Kitt was born January 17, 1927 on a cotton plantation in South Carolina. It is believed that Kitt was conceived by rape, her father being a white man with the last name of Keith and her mother who was of mixed ancestry (Cherokee and African). Throughout her life Kitt was unaccepted by different communities due to her skin tone. At age 8 her mother Annie Mae Keith (later changed to Annie Mae Riley) married a man who was unwilling to except Eartha due to her lighter skin complexion. As a result, her mother sent her away to live with her aunt in Harlem, New York. Her aunt began to pay for dance and piano lessons, and it was there in New York that Eartha’s spark for showbiz was ignited (

Around 1943, as a young teenager, Kitt decided to try out for an African-American dance company known as the Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. She received a spot as a dancer and vocalist and traveled around the globe with the dance company. While touring with the company in Paris, Kitt sparked the interest of a nightclub owner and quit the dance company to perform at the nightclub. She quickly learned French, and won over the hearts of French fans. In 1952, Kitt was cast in a Broadway show known as New Faces. This stardom led to her eventually signing a recording contract where she made one of her biggest hits “Santa Baby”.  Kitt continued acting throughout her old career and was even casted as “Catwoman” in 1967 for the television series Batman (

Kitt faced a major career setback in January of 1968 when during a White House luncheon she made anti-war comments. When asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War, Kitt responded by saying “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the streets. They will take pot and they will get high. They don’t want to go to school because they will be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”  This statement upset the First Lady and caused her to cry. Later on during a Q&A session Kitt began to apologize for her previous statement, but ended the apology by saying, “The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons—and I know what it’s like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson—we raise children and send them to war.” Kitt was not at the time aware of what a severe impact these statements would have on her career. She was blacklisted in the United States for years and had to travel abroad to Europe and Asia to find work. In 1974 Kitt returned and resumed work in the United States (

Eartha Kitt married businessman John William McDonald in 1960 and gave birth to her daughter, Kitt McDonald, whom she said was the greatest joy in her life. Some of Kitt’s most recent roles in films and television include Disney films such as The Emperor’s New Groove where she voiced a villain named “Yzma”, and Holes where she played a character named “Madame Zeroni”. She also starred in the 90’s sitcom Living Single, a role that landed her a nomination for the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Miss Kitt passed away on December 25, 2008 of colon cancer. She is survived by her daughter and grandchildren, and remembered by the world for her distinct voice, captivating personality, and major contributions to the world of the arts (


Attention UMKC students: Are you a Reentry Woman?

If you are, this is the scholarship for you.

By Megan Schwindler

The AAUW Kansas City is offering a $500 award for Reentry Women. This award includes either a cash amount or a scholarship paid to the college on your behalf. The Council presents this scholarship annually to women who “exemplify the effort, perseverance, and courage to return to the classroom in pursuit of personal and vocational goals.”

About the American Association of University Women

AAUW has been empowering women since 1881. Their organization has worked to improve the lives of millions of women and their families through programs in research, campus initiatives, STEM education, public policy, and educational funding, among others. You can visit this link to find out more.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

You must meet the qualifications below and fill out an application. Applications are available at the UMKC Women’s Center.

Can you answer YES to each of these statements?

  1. I was out of school (high school or college) for at least 5 years before returning to school.
  2. I am currently enrolled as a full-time student or part-time student (6 hours minimum)
  3. I have not completed a bachelor’s degree.
  4. I have completed at least 30 hours of undergraduate credit prior to applying with at least 15 hours completed since reentry OR I am pursuing an academic certificate and earned credit last semester.
  5. I have a grade point average of at least 3.0 since reentry to college.

If you meet all of the above qualifications, contact:

Arzie Umali

105 Haag Hall, 5120 Rockhill Rd.



Upcoming Event: Feminist Film Friday

By Megan Schwindler

Coming up on Friday, February 9 from 12-2 pm, the UMKC Women’s Center is sponsoring Feminist Film Friday: Until the Violence Stops. This event is co-sponsored by the Violence Prevention and Response Program. The event will be held at the UMKC Women’s Center, in 105 Haag Hall. RSVP’s are necessary for this event.

End your week enjoying a movie and some free pizza with the staff at the Women’s Center. This week’s movie is a documentary about the start and success of The Vagina Monologues and the V-Day Movement. RSVP to or 816-235-1638 by February 7.

We hope to see you there!

Why Black Panther’s 16-Year-Old Sister Shuri is So Important

By Tatiahna Turner

          The new Marvel movie, Black Panther which is set to be released in theaters February 16, 2018 has what some may call an unexpected important character. Letitia Wright will be playing the role of Black Panther’s 16-year-old half-sister, Shuri. Although Shuri has been around in the comics, Black Panther will be her cinematic debut. It couldn’t have come at a better time given our society’s current climate surrounding the equality and representation of women. In this day and age the young, bright minds of women in our community need inspirational characters like Shuri to remind them that women can be intelligent and powerful. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Wright has only good things to say about Shuri, “She’s princess of Wakanda, but also she designs all of the new technology there. . . She’s so vibrant; a beautiful spirit, but also so focused on what she does. And that’s good for other people to see, especially young people to see, because it’s like, ‘Look, there’s a young black girl who loves technology and she’s from Africa.’ It’s something refreshing.” Nate Moore, Black Panther’s producer says that Shuri is, “the smartest person in the world, smarter than Tony Stark but she’s a sixteen year old girl which we thought was really interesting.” Moore goes on to say, “Again, black faces in positions of power or positions of technological know-how, that’s a rarity. So it’s something that’s a big part of the film.”

The underrepresentation of women in film of, and especially black women in positions of power, is something that is rarely talked about. It seems that society often forgets just how powerful film and television can be in our lives. It can be subconsciously defeating or discouraging for women to never see themselves portrayed in films or shows across the world as intelligent, strong, and beautiful. More often than not, we are made to seem weak-minded, powerless, and beneath our male counterparts. The representation of women as simply objects that can be controlled and taken advantage of is very degrading, and is why it is important that we begin to see more characters like Shuri on the big screen.  For a woman of color to be a centerpiece of a film and to be portrayed as “the smartest person in the world,” I would say is a great first step in the right direction.

Lupita Nyong’o and Diverse Children’s Literature

By Megan Schwindler 

Lupita Nyong’o, the Academy Award-winning actress, is currently writing her debut children’s book,  
Sulwe. According to The New York Times, the picture book is aimed for readers between the ages of 5 and 7, and tells the story of a young Kenyan girl who struggles with accepting her dark skin. During the story, Sulwe embarks on a “whimsical adventure” and receives advice from her mother, which in the end, helps her see the beauty in herself.  

Times reports, “Like Sulwe, Ms. Nyong’o struggled with her complexion and self-image as a child. Growing up, she remembers becoming more aware of herself in grade school and caring about the opinions of others. It was around that time that she also noticed the language people outside of her family used to describe her “brown and pretty,” lighter skinned sister.” This narrative is one we see again in Nyong’o’s 2014 speech, where she spoke of her struggle to find self-love. This changed, however when model Alex Wek was celebrated for her beauty. Nyong’o said, “… when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty.” The power of representation is further shown in her closing statement, where she hopes that women, “feel the validation of [their] external beauty, but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.” This speech resonated with viewers and quickly went viral, which persuaded Nyong’o to write a book for a younger audience. While she recognizes that her high-profile name has garnered a lot of attention and love, she ultimately wants the book to “help all children reimagine what it means to be beautiful.”  

Why does this matter? Diverse books allow children to see themselves represented in positive ways in the stories they read (or are read to). This cultivates confidence, high self-esteem, and a sense of pride in who they are. It’s also important that children have access to stories with characters that do not look like themselves. Stories that speak of loving oneself and being strong have been on the rise in the past year, making room for a few great Feminist children’s books. This list includes, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, Princesses Wear Pants? and Rosie Revere, Engineer, among others.  

Sulwe will be published in January 2019 through Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.