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Loretta Ross      

Founder, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective; Reproductive Justice Activist & Professor

Loretta Ross is an award-winning, nationally recognized expert on racism and racial justice, women's rights, and human rights. Her work emphasizes the intersectionality of social justice issues and how intersectionality can fuel transformation.

Ross is a visiting associate professor at Smith College (Northampton, MA) in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender, teaching courses on white supremacy, race and culture in America, human rights, and calling in the calling out culture.

She has co-written three books on reproductive justice: "Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice," winner of the Outstanding Book Award by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights; "Reproductive Justice: An Introduction," a first-of-its-kind primer that provides a comprehensive yet succinct description of the field and puts the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center of the book; and "Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practice, Critique." Her latest book, "Calling In the Calling Out Culture," was published in 2021.

Ross appears regularly in major media outlets about the issues of our day. She was recently featured in a New York Times piece, "What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?" She was a co-founder and the National Coordinator, from 2005 to 2012, of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a network of women of color and allied organizations that organize women of color in the reproductive justice movement. Other leadership positions have included:

  • National Co-Director of the April 25, 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C., the largest protest march in U.S. history with more than one million participants.

  • Founder and Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE)

  • Program Research Director at the Center for Democratic Renewal/National Anti-Klan Network where she led projects researching hate groups and working against all forms of bigotry with universities, schools, and community groups

  • Founder of the Women of Color Program for the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the 1980s

  • Leading many women of color delegations to international conferences on women's issues and human rights.

Ross is a rape survivor, was forced to raise a child born of incest, and is a survivor of sterilization abuse. She is a model of how to survive and thrive despite the traumas that disproportionately affect low-income women of color. She is a nationally-recognized trainer on using the transformative power of Reproductive Justice to build a Human Rights movement that includes everyone.

Ross serves as a consultant for Smith College, collecting oral histories of feminists of color for the Sophia Smith Collection which also contains her personal archives.

She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree awarded in 2003 from Arcadia University and a second honorary doctorate degree awarded from Smith College in 2013. She is pursuing a PhD in Women’s Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She is a mother, grandmother and a great-grandmother.

Speech Topics


Appropriate Whiteness

A lecture series she created based on her work in the 1990s doing anti-Klan and anti-white supremacy organizing. It is directed at young people who want to move beyond the hurtful, hardened racial patterns of the past and live more intersectional lives with technology playing a major role in easing and crossing rigid boundaries. The lecture addresses situations of racial awkwardness and fears of “messing up.” It will also help to normalize discussions of race with a frank analysis of what to do and not to do in moving forward difficult dialogues. The presentation is suitable for all audiences.

Reproductive Justice

Exploring the term, which calls for careful attention to reproductive oppression, expanding beyond sterilization abuse to critique many interrelated issues such as population control, immigration restrictions, the gun culture, prison-to-school pipelines, and prosecution of women for pregnancy-related behaviors, etc. While RJ was created by African American women in 1994, it doesn’t only apply to women of color because it is based on the human rights framework, and everyone has the same human rights which are intersectional and apply to all. As one of the original creators of RJ, her presentation would cover all these aspects of Reproductive Justice that is quickly becoming the primary framework new voices in the movement are using to move beyond the paralyzing debates of abortion politics.

News


'Voices of Resistance' keynote at UMass looks at white supremacy in ...
Loretta Ross, a Hampshire College visiting associate professor will speak Nov. 4, 2017, as part of three-day "Voices of Resistance" program at the University of Massachusetts.

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