Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook

By Jennifer Scanlon | Go to book overview

FRANCES BEALE
(1940-)

Marina Karides and Joya Misra

Frances Beale is a powerful feminist, civil rights activist, and freelance writer who was among the first to suggest that the intersection between race, class, and gender is critical to a full understanding of social problems. Beale was born in Binghamton, New York, to an African American/Native American father and a Jewish mother. With her parents and her three brothers, she grew up in a small community in the Binghamton area, which was home to fewer than 500 black families. After her father's death from cancer in 1955, Beale's mother moved the family to Queens, New York. In Queens, Beale began her lifelong activism within the African American community.

Beale's parents, Charolete Berman and Ernest Archer Yates, both played an inspiring role in her life and taught her to challenge injustice. Berman, member of a Russian/Polish family of secular Jewish immigrants, was herself a member of the American Labor Party. Later in her life, Berman returned to college and became an ardent feminist. Yates was the first member of his family to attain a college education, with the help of his siblings, parents, and a baseball scholarship, although limited job prospects led him to work as a truck driver. Berman and Yates first met when Yates was driving between Binghamton and New York.

From an early age, Beale was exposed to the richness of her African American heritage, with books like Langston Hughes' Pictorial History of the Negro People. She was also influenced by her African Methodist Episcopalian Zion church, where she sang in the choir and was particularly inspired by biblical stories of the Israelites' freeing themselves from Egypt's oppression. Beale rejected religion after her father's death, but she attributes her basic sense of morality and justice to her early experiences in her church.

Beale's family also helped shape her choices and values. Beale's mother's family remained supportive of communist ideals after emigrating to the United States. One family tale recounts her grandfather's being caught stealing supplies for an underground newspaper from the printing press he worked for. Her aunt's story

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Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Bella Abzug (1920-1998) 1
  • Paula Gunn Allen (1939-) 8
  • Gloria AnzaldÚa (1942-) 14
  • Frances Beale (1940-) 22
  • Rita Mae Brown (1944-) 28
  • Charlotte Bunch (1944-) 36
  • Pat Califia (1954-) 44
  • Judy Chicago (1939-) 51
  • Shirley Chisholm (1924-) 55
  • Esther Ngan-Ling Chow (1943-) 60
  • Pearl Cleage (1948-) 66
  • Kate Clinton (1945- ) 73
  • Mary Daly (1928- ) 79
  • Angela Davis (1944-) 86
  • Shulamith Firestone (1945-) 98
  • Jo Freeman (1945-) 104
  • Betty Friedan (1921-) 111
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-) 118
  • Bell Hooks (1952- ) 125
  • Dolores Huerta (1930-) 133
  • June Jordan (1936-) 138
  • Evelyn Fox Keller (1936-) 145
  • Florynce Kennedy (1916-) 150
  • Audre Lorde (1934-1992) 156
  • Catharine Mackinnon (1946-) 163
  • Olga Madar (1915-1996) 174
  • Wilma Mankiller (1945-) 181
  • Del Martin (1921-) 188
  • Kate Millett (1934- ) 194
  • CherrÍe Moraga (1952- ) 201
  • Robin Morgan (1941-) 206
  • Pauli Murray (1910-1985) 213
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-) 218
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) 223
  • Anna Quindlen (1952-) 231
  • Adrienne Rich (1929-) 238
  • Faith Ringgold (1930-) 245
  • Rosemary Ruether (1936-) 251
  • Joanna Russ (1937-) 257
  • Patricia Schroeder (1940-) 264
  • Eleanor Smeal (1939-) 271
  • Barbara Smith (1946-) 279
  • Gloria Steinem (1934-) 283
  • Margo St. James (1937-) 290
  • Alice Walker (1944- ) 297
  • Rebecca Walker (1969-) 305
  • Michele Wallace (1952-) 311
  • Sarah Weddington (1945-) 317
  • Ellen Willis (1941-) 327
  • Selected Bibliography 335
  • Index 341
  • About the Editor and Contributors 355
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