The world is literally and figuratively on fire. People want to know how to fix humanity’s ills. For Paris Hatcher, founder and executive director of Black Feminist Future, Black feminism is the answer. That’s why her organization will host the Get Free: A Black Feminist Reunion conference this weekend in Baltimore in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Black Feminist Organization’s inaugural meeting.
“Choosing Baltimore was easy,” Hatcher said. “For us, it lives up to the name ‘Charm City’ and we can also see how Black people are dispossessed from the city.”
Baltimore City reciprocated the appreciation by proclaiming June 8 as Black Feminist Future Day. “Black Feminist Future will convene Black women from across the country to set an agenda to help improve the material conditions of women and gender-expansive people,” Mayor Brandon Scott read from the declaration at a ceremony Thursday. Hatcher smiled brightly as the proclamation was handed to her.
Councilwomen Phylicia Porter and Danielle McCray stood in support. “Today we celebrate all Black women and uplift the work you’re doing for Black women every single day,” Porter said.
The original convening of the National Black Feminist Organization happened under similar circumstances in 1973. Hatcher asserts that the economic issues, violence and disenfranchisement that brought Black feminists together then are still prevalent today.
Hatcher founded Black Feminist Future nine years ago because she wanted “to create a unique and important space to amplify the needs as well as the power of Black women, girls and gender-expansive people in the United States.” She had previously worked as an organizer for reproductive justice and LGBTQIA+ rights, but she noticed that much of Black organizing focused on men and boys, with a dearth of content surrounding Black women.
This weekend’s reunion will feature speakers such as Angelica Ross, Tarana Burke and Brittney Cooper. It will kick off Thursday night with a celebration of Black Feminist Future Day, complete with snowballs to celebrate. Panels and lectures will take place at The Waterfront Marriott the following days, including the North Star Gala, an event hosted by Baltimore native and journalist Farai Chideya on Saturday evening.
Although this is the first Get Free conference, Hatcher doesn’t want it to be the last.
“Baltimore is a main character in the story that we’re telling in Get Free,” she said.