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Loretta Ross

SisterSong, Undivided Rights 


Loretta Ross is a founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, a network created in 1997 consisting of 80 women of color and allied organizations that work on reproductive justice issues. In 2003, Loretta received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree from Arcadia University. Loretta was 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. From 1996-2004, she was the Founder and Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) in Atlanta, Georgia. She is an expert on human rights, women’s issues, diversity issues, hate groups and right-wing organizations.

She co-authored Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice (South End Press) with Jael Silliman, Marlene Fried, and Elena Gutierrez. Ms. Ross is presently writing a book on reproductive rights entitled Black Abortion and editing an anthology about reproductive justice.

Loretta was one of the first African American women to direct the first rape crisis center in the United States in the 1970s. From 1985 to 1989, she served as the Director of Women of Color Programs for the National Organization for Women, organizing the first national conference on Women of Color and Reproductive Rights in 1987. Prior to developing NCHRE in 1996, she served as the national program research director for the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR) (formerly the National Anti-Klan Network) from 1990 to 1995 and program director of the National Black Women’s Health Project from 1989-1990. She has appeared as a commentator on Pacifica News ServiceGood Morning America, The Donahue Show, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN, and BET.

Two of Loretta’s talks are:

Reproductive Justice (RJ) – 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, my 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.

Appropriate Whiteness (AW) – a lecture series I created based on my 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.

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Loretta Ross
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