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The Center on Colfax

Margaret Sloan Hunter (1947 - 2004)


Margaret Sloan, Co-Founder of National Black Feminist Organization. 1973. Photo by Bettye Lane.

The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) was founded in 1973 after a meeting about “Black Women and their Relationship to the Women’s Movement.” Margaret Sloan-Hunter, an African American lesbian and a former editor of Ms., was the first and only president of the organization. Many black feminist organizations “took advantage of cracks in the social movement and political opportunity structures to garner attention for Black women’s race, class, and gender concerns.” These organizations in the 1960s and 1970s “relied on social networks forged in the civil rights and women’s movements to mobilize black women, as well as challenge established social movements and political structures.” Sloan-Hunter had joined “the Chicago chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality [at age 14]. She was involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, participating in marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After moving to California in 1975, [and] helped organize the Berkeley Women’s Center and the Feminist School for Girls.”

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Chicago, Sloan-Hunter “organized tenants’ unions, rent strikes, and campaigned against the lead poisoning plaguing housing on the West Side,” all before the age of 18. The NBFO, and Margaret Sloan Hunter by extension, aligned with white feminists in matters concerning child care, rape, and the ERA, but remained primarily focused on the concerns of Black women. Even after her time with the NBFO, Sloan-Hunter continued to work as a feminist activist. She worked as a speaker at a 1974 conference hosted by the Colorado Springs branch of the Virginia Blue Resource Center for Colorado Women. The conference was about sex role stereotyping with a theme of “Girls Have a Future, too.” She even attended the first ever feminist symposium held in the state of Wyoming in 1975. While there she stated that white men were not needed in the feminist movement and should instead “deal with their own kind, the truck drivers and the cowboys.”

Margaret Sloan-Hunter was also an avid writer. She not only published a book of poetry titled Black and Lavender: The Collected Poems of Margaret Sloan-Hunter in 1995, but she also wrote articles in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Civil Rights Digest. She died on September 23, 2004 after a long illness.