The Personal Is Political
Loretta Ross is a second wave feminist, a family and movement matriarch, and a human rights organizer whose decades of organizing have inspired more than one generation. She has birthed new ways of framing our issues in social justice organizing. She led the conversations where terms that are part of our organizing lexicon such as “women of color” and “reproductive justice” were born. She served as the National Co-Director of the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, which was one of the biggest protests in U.S. history with 1.15 million participants. She founded organizations that continue to build the movement by focusing on human rights.
Her first political organizing happened in 1973 when she came home to her apartment to find an eviction notice. Her landlord was breaking all the leases to convert the building to condominiums. He gave them sixty days to vacate. As she describes it, “I met with a bunch of residents down in the laundry room to see what we could do. I volunteered to take notes. It seemed it must be illegal to break leases like that.” This led to her involvement in the struggle against gentrification and the formation of the City-Wide Housing Coalition. They worked for and won rent control in 1974. “That was my formal entrée into social justice organizing.” Ten years down the road, the tenants bought the building. Ross had moved by then, but she still finds joy in their victory.
She defines that as her consciousness-raising moment, when she went from trying to make a living to trying to make a living doing social justice. It was during this time that she met Nkenge Touré who persuaded Ross to volunteer at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center. In 1979, Ross became its director. Continue reading