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The Second Wave: Revolutionary Women of Color

This one time event offers a rare opportunity to meet leaders behind an unforgettable era in civil rights history.

By Kira Schwarz ‘22

Elizabeth Cobbs, a professor and the Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History at Texas A&M University, is hosting “The Second Wave: Revolutionary Women of Color” on March 24 and 25. The Pioneers’ Panel on March 24 at 5:00 p.m. gives students, faculty, and the public an opportunity to hear Frances Beal, Martha Cotera, and Yvonne Swan, three women of color who were leaders of the second wave of feminism, tell their stories. 

“Traditionally, there’s been this sort of negative  assumption that women’s rights and feminism  were always just about middle-class, privileged white women who wanted things their own way, which is not accurate,” Cobbs said. “ Women of all backgrounds did important work that gave us a better country .”

Frances Beal shed light on the intersectionality of race, class, and gender in American society in her 1969 article “Double Jeopardy: To be Black and Female.” Martha Cotera authored the 1977 pamphlet “The Chicana Feminist” and fiercely advocated for better bilingual programs in schools. In 1977, Yvonne Swan fought and overturned  an unfair prison sentence for defending her children against a violent attacker, transforming the justice system’s handling of cases involving battered women. Each woman  was  integral to the progress made during the Civil Rights Era. All are a testament to the strength, courage, and unrelenting force that is demanded for widespread change to occur. 

During this historic, one-time panel discussion, Beal, Cotera, and Swan will share their unique experiences navigating the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements from the 1960s to the 1980s. 

“In that era, law really began to be applied equally. The full protection of the Constitution was finally  extended to women in the 1960s and 70s,” Cobbs explained. “All these institutions that nobody ever thought about and that we take for granted nowadays, like  battered women’s shelters or girls’ sports teams, came about at this time. These were the women who endured enormous hardships to make that happen.”

Leroy G. Dorsey, a communication professor and associate dean for inclusive excellence and strategic initiatives, will provide a formal welcome to Pioneers’ Panel attendees. He expressed his reverence for the panelists and the monumental progress they helped make .

“The college is proud to help showcase some of the pioneering women of color whose tireless commitment during the years of second wave feminism have resulted in major contributions that continue to shape the fabric of American culture,” Dorsey stated.

To highlight the influence of women like Beal, Cotera, and Swan, Cobbs is also hosting a day-long conference on March 25. The day kicks off at 9:30 a.m., and includes graduate student panelists conducting research on second-wave feminism, as well as presentations from scholars across the country who have investigated the organizational roots of women of color during  the second wave of feminism.

Attendees can RSVP for The Pioneers’ Panel on March 24 featuring Beal, Cotera, and Swan at, and the following day’s conference at The public is invited to hear the stories, perspectives, and experiences behind the groundbreaking second wave of feminism and the future it continues to forge.