Celebrating Toni Cade Bambara at 75

[by Meredith Wiggins]

African American letters lost one of its brightest lights in 1995 when Black feminist author, filmmaker and activist Toni Cade Bambara passed away at the age of 56 after being diagnosed with colon cancer.  

This November, to mark the 75th anniversary of Bambara’s birth year, The Feminist Wire is currently hosting a two-week online forum celebrating the life, work, and continuing influence of a woman who said that writers and artists had a duty “to make revolution irresistible.”

Among literary critics, Bambara is perhaps best known for her foundational 1970 collection The Black Woman, which was one of the earliest feminist anthologies to focus on the lives and work of African American women. Featuring essays, short stories, and poetry by writers like Paule Marshall and Audre Lorde as well as by Bambara herself, the collection “grew of out impatience with the lack of writing for African-American women by African-American women.”

TFW’s Bambara Forum, curated by Dr. Heidi R. Lewis and former Bambara student Aisha Shahidah Simmons, is the culmination of more than six months of work and will feature more than 40 voices contributing “Love Notes Essays, Remembrances, Poetry, and Videos.”  Some pieces are already up on TFW.

The Feminist Wire is an online peer-reviewed publication founded in 2011 by Black Feminist Scholars Hortense J. Spillers and Tamura A. Lomax.  It is dedicated to “celebrat[ing] a multiplicity of feminist expressions from diverse…writers that span genders, sexualities, professions, ages, races and ethnicities.”