The BWOA emerges in part, from the work of the Colored Conventions Project (CCP), founded by Gabrielle Foreman, Jim Casey, and Sarah Patterson at the University of Delaware and now housed in the Center for Black Digital Research at Penn State. CCP brings seven decades of Black organizing to digital life by recovering and making freely-accessible the records that document the collective, collaborative organizing of the Colored Conventions movement. BWOA takes up CCP’s commitment to highlighting Black women’s often invisible participation in the Conventions movement, making visible the many and varied ways Black women and children participated in, facilitated, and shaped this Black organizing throughout the long nineteenth century.
For the BWOA, specifically, we seek to bring together the scattered archives of individual Black women activists and organizers, allowing us to center Black women’s work and activism and to ask how our attention to these scattered archives expands our understandings of Black organizing histories and freedom struggles.
Building on the iterative processes and community-based practices of both CCP and Douglass Day, BWOA seeks to bring together the collections of Black women organizers and activists in the long nineteenth century in ways that enhance access to their intellectual contributions and activist work. BWOA carries out this work by engaging intergenerational Black communities, working in partnerships across numerous organizations, empowering graduate student leaders and community members, and cultivating new ground for research, scholarship and teaching. Most importantly, BWOA is informed and shaped by the collaborative, community-based ethos espoused by the very women whose lives BWOA seeks to document.