The Feminist Wire Celebrates Writer Toni Cade Bambara’s Life and Legacy In An Upcoming 75th Birthday Anniversary Forum – The Feminist Wire

The Feminist Wire Celebrates Writer Toni Cade Bambara’s Life and Legacy In An Upcoming 75th Birthday Anniversary Forum

Curators/Editors: Heidi R. Lewis, Ph.D., and Aishah Shahidah Simmons



Toni Cade Bambara ©Susan J. Ross

Toni Cade Bambara
©Susan J. Ross

The Feminist Wire  (TFW) will host a ground breaking two-week online forum  ~ ~ in honor of TONI CADE BAMBARA (1939-1995), beginning on Monday, November 17, 2014.

The forum is the first on-line celebration of Bambara, an award winning internationally acclaimed Black feminist writer, cultural worker, and organizer.  This year marks Bambara’s 75th birthday anniversary year.

In designing the Forum, TFW’s Associate Editors Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Heidi R. Lewis, partnered to curate the online Bambara tribute.  Simmons, a former Bambara film student in the 1990s and Creator of NO! The Rape Documentary, and Lewis an Assistant Professor at Colorado College, spent over six months conceptualizing, organizing, and editing the forum, which includes writers, scholars, poets, filmmakers, activists, and others.

Bambara believed that the role of the writer/artist is “to make revolution irresistible.” She also believed that the work and responsibility of the artist/cultural worker is determined by the community that they serve.  Contributors to the forum speak to Bambara’s continued influence on political and social movements.

Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning author Toni Morrison called her dear friend Bambara, “a writer’s writer.”  In 2013 Bambara was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.  Additionally, she has received numerous others awards and accolades in her lifetime for her writing, including 1981 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.  Bambara’s written work includes the ground breaking1970 anthology The Black Woman, two short story collections, Gorilla, My Love (1972) and The Seabirds Are Still Alive (1977); and one novel, The Salt Eaters (1980). Toni Morrison published two of her friend’s work posthumously Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions (1995), a collection of fiction, essays, and conversations; and, Those Bones Are Not My Child (1999), a novel about the Atlanta Child Murders.

A noted documentary filmmaker, Bambara also taught, mentored, consulted, worked and/or partnered with many emerging and veteran documentary and narrative filmmakers. She was also a film critic who applied her razor sharp Black feminist analysis in her critiques of film. Her cinematic work includes the award-winning films, The Bombing of Osage Avenue and W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices, both of which were produced and directed by Louis Massiah.

The two-week online forum will offer Love Notes Essays, Remembrances, Poetry, and Videos in honor of Bambara. Lewis and Simmons gathered more than forty voices that reflect on Bambara’s life, work, and living legacy. The contributors include the late Tom Feelings and his oldest son Kamili Feelings, Pearl Cleage, Eleanor Traylor, members from the ImageWeavers Black and Brown Women’s Media Arts Collective, Haki Madhubuti, Nikky Finney, Sonia Sanchez, bell hooks, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Clyde Taylor, Paula Giddings, Susan J. Ross, Rita Dove, Alice Lovelace, Laura WhitehornKalamu ya Salaam, Cheryl Clarke, Louis Massiah, and Gloria I. Joseph.

Other contributors include, Linda Janet Holmes who recently published A Joyous Revolt, the first full-length biography on Bambara; Thabiti Lewis who is the editor of Conversations with Toni Cade Bambara; E. Ethelbert Miller who is responsible for placing a portrait of Bambara on a stamp coming out of Ghana; and Malaika Adero, who, in her former role as Vice President/Senior Editor at Atria Book/Simon & Schuster, published a new edition of Bambara’s The Black Woman: An Anthology, with a foreword by Eleanor Traylor. Adero is responsible for bringing the out of print anthology back into print.

Activists, scholars, cultural workers, and others interested in learning more about the life and work of one of the most significant Black women writers to emerge in the 20th century will want to share this online forum with those who have yet to learn of Bambara’s brilliance and influence on political and social movements.

The Feminist Wire, an online peer-reviewed publication, co-founded by Black Feminist Scholars, Hortense J. Spillers, Ph.D. and Tamura A. Lomax, Ph.D. in January 2011, celebrates a multiplicity of feminist expressions from diverse a writers that span genders, sexualities, professions, ages, races and ethnicities.


  1. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes

    November 13, 2014 at 10:20 am

    A short story that Toni Cade, later Toni Cade Bambara, published in Redbook and her anthology, THE BLACK WOMAN are at the intellectual and spiritual foundation of my research on black women community workers. Thank you Toni Cade Bambara and Thank you, God, for Toni Cade Bambara!!!!

    • Aishah Shahidah Simmons

      December 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Thank you for this powerful testimony Sister Cheryl!!! Yes, thank you Toni Cade Bambara and Thank you Universe, for Toni Cade Bambara!!!!

  2. Catherine Lamkin

    November 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks so much for this wonderful upcoming tribute to Tonai Cade Bambara. I stood on line with my 3 year old daughter to get in to the Schomburg for her memorial service. It was magnificent. I look forward to this tribute.

    • Aishah Shahidah Simmons

      December 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      We hop you enjoyed the tribute!!! If you missed any part of it, the Afterword includes a full listing of all of the offerings in the name of Toni Cade Bambara:

  3. Jourdan Imani Keith

    November 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Aishah my sister, without her, there would have been no Silence…Broken. Thank you for keeping the griot’s fire.

    • Aishah Shahidah Simmons

      December 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      My dear sister Jourdan, no truer words have been written. My Goddess, you are so right!!!! Their spirits are my beacon of Black feminist light on the journey. I also pour libation to them in honor of our sister/camaraderie. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! “Which Stripe Am I? One Love.

  4. Ernie Brill

    November 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Toni Cade Bambara and I were friends. We admired each other’s fiction; we both wrote with humanity and social justice in mind and in heart. Toni had an incredible sunniness and peristence; it shone in her work. Her too-soon leaving was an incredible loss for her family and friends, and for American literature. She never got the due she deserved; hopefully, this will and is being remedied. For those unfamiliar with her work, I recommend it heartily, particularly her ground breaking anthology The Black Woman, and her stories, “The Organizer’s Wife”, “The Johnson Girls”, and “The Apprentice”, among the many. I cant tell you how many of my former student ( I taught high school and college for over twenty years)loved her work and saw her optimism about people as a breath of fresh air. She may have gone, but her work, legacy and spirit remain.

    • Aishah Shahidah Simmons

      December 4, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Thank you very much for your remembrance! As you already noted, TCB was a special person whose spirit, legacy and work LIVE in so many ways and on multiple levels. VIVA!

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