Local Socialist Feminist Group Still Kicking at 50

by Gina Petry

This year marks the golden anniversary of Radical Women, a grassroots socialist feminist organization based in Columbia City. The organization was founded on the revolutionary idea that the leadership of working-class women, especially women of color, is essential to social change. This idea is still fundamental to what Radical Women believes and does today.

In late August, Radical Women celebrated its anniversary with a gala event “Bread, Roses and Feminist Leadership: Walking the Talk for 50 years.” New Freeway Hall, the group’s headquarters, was a packed house of long-time friends and supporters, current allies and first time visitors.

Speakers gave enthralling toasts and reminiscences of their mutual work with Radical Women over the decades. This included Guerry Hoddersen, long-time member of Radical Women, who recounted the early days fighting intense sexism and backlash against working- class women’s leadership. Other speakers were Elmer Dixon, co-founder of Seattle’s Black Panther Party, who met and worked with Radical Women defending the Panther offices under attack by the police.

Former Puyallup tribal leader and elder Ramona Bennett described Radical Women’s firm support after the tribe took over the Cascadia Juvenile Jail in the 1970’s to provide services for Native American children.

Native American feminist Nancy Shippentower, and DeCharlene Williams, founder of Central Area Chamber of Commerce and Black community activist, saluted the power and importance of multi-racial organizing. Unionist Annaliza Torres spoke to the militancy of Radical Women’s Sisters Organize for Survival campaign that battled to save Washington’s Basic Health plan, stop budget cuts and tax the rich and corporations.

Other highlights included Radical Women’s work on immigrant rights, reproductive justice, stopping police brutality and more! Dynamic singer Latin Rose rounded out the evening with her passionate music about unity and women’s empowerment.

It was an exhilarating evening of revolutionary and feminist activists honoring the past organizing and looking forward to a united, radical future. Attendees agreed that the collaboration and strength that has been built over the decades is needed now more than ever.

This is the time to counter Trump and emboldened right-wing forces that are destroying the rights, land and livelihood of women, people of color and all working class and poor people.

To know more about and get involved with Radical Women, drop by New Freeway Hall at 5018 Rainier Avenue S. Contact 206-722-6057 or rwseattle@mindspring.com.

Featured image by Gina Petry