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Barbara Smith interviewed by Loretta J. Ross, May 7–8, 2003

 File — Multiple Containers
Link to transcript of Barbara Smith interview
Link to transcript of Barbara Smith interview
Link to video
Link to video

Scope and Contents

In this oral history Barbara Smith describes her childhood in an emotionally warm and culturally rich family that valued education and race work. The interview focuses on her activism as a grassroots organizer, writer, and publisher. Smith's story details the political challenges and personal costs of being a pioneer in radical coalition politics against imperialism, racism, and sexism, and homophobia. (Transcript 109 pp.)

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: May 7–8, 2003


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Web Access

At the direction of the narrator, the recording of this interview may only be placed on the web if access is restricted to the Smith College community. Please consult with special collections staff at to inquire about the existence of or access to digital copies. The interviewer and narrator for this interview have agreed that the transcript may be placed on the web.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview is open for research use without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The interviewer and narrator have transferred copyright of this interview to Smith College.

Biographical / Historical

Barbara Smith (b. 1946) grew up in Cleveland. A 1969 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, in 1973 she co-founded the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist organizing group. In 1977 she wrote "Towards a Black Feminist Criticism," which charted a black women's literary tradition. As co-founder with Audre Lorde of Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, Smith promoted publication of women's writing. She edited three landmark collections of black feminist thought: Conditions 5: The Black Women's Issue (1979), All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave (1982), and Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology (1983). She published a collection of essays, The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom, in 1998. A public intellectual and grassroots organizer, Smith is noted for her scholarship (Bunting Fellow, 1996-97) and her activism (Stonewall Award, 1994).