If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress

art by Mickalene Thomas


Spend this Black History Month remembering the activists upon whose work we build, and upon whose shoulders we stand. Connect with writers, thinkers, artists, and creators you may never have heard of; or dig deeper into the work of old favorites. Celebrate #blackgirlmagic. Applaud #blackboyjoy. Tune into the diaspora and witness that Black people in America have spent the last four hundred years making lemonade out of lemons and ploughshares out of swords. Testify that our words, like our lives, matter.

This month is about more than the rote recitation of dates or the half-hearted retweeting of yet another Rosa Parks picture. Don’t spend another February listlessly tuning out another excerpt of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Be visible and vocal in your support of issues important to the black community.

So, where do you start? During this Black History Month, Feminist Frequency would like to share with you some awesome work by Black female writers we think you’ll find edifying, thought-provoking, and challenging. Educate yourself. Listen when Black women speak. Our feminism must be intersectional or our revolution will fail.


Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform… If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress… If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass, “No Struggle, No Progress” (1857)

*Frederick Douglass is an example of someone who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, we noticed —