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Margaret Sloan-Hunter
Activist (1947-2004)

"I'm not black Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a woman Thursday, Friday and Saturday."  -- Margaret Sloan-Hunter

Margaret Sloan-Hunter, an early editor at Ms. Magazine, a poet and an activist fighting for feminist, lesbian and African-American causes died Sept. 23, 2004, in Oakland, Calif., after what her family called a prolonged illness. She was 57. Born May 31, 1947, in Chattanooga, Tenn., grew up in Chicago, she dedicated most of her life to the civil rights and women's movements.

To say the gay & lesbian community lost a tireless activist would be an understatement. Sloan-Hunter undertook her first high-profile civil rights project when she was just 14 years old when she joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a group that worked on poverty and urban issues on behalf of the African-American community in Chicago. She organized tenants unions and rent strikes and campaigned against the lead poisoning plaguing housing on the West Side, all before she was even old enough to vote.

In addition to her activism, Sloan-Hunter was an accomplished organizer and founded several organizations. In high school, she won awards for public speaking, and at 17, she founded the Junior Catholic Inter-Racial Council, a group of inner-city and suburban students who worked together against racism. That group talked about problems with racism and worked on racial problems.

She attended what was then Chicago City College, as well as Malcolm X College, majoring in speech, and earned her bachelor's degree in Women's Studies at Antioch University in San Francisco. In the summer of 1966, she participated in the open housing marches in Chicago with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and later worked as a coordinator of a Hunger Task Force at Operation Breadbasket with the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Ms. Sloan-Hunter was one of the early editors of Ms. Magazine. While based in New York, she traveled extensively with Gloria Steinem, lecturing on sexism and racism throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In 1973, she founded and was the first chairwoman of the National Black Feminist Organization and gave hundreds of lectures at institutions such as Harvard and Yale, and to grass-roots groups such as the National Welfare Rights Organization.

In 1975, she and her daughter moved to California, where they established the Women's Foundation. She and her daughter, who friends say was also her best friend, worked as organizers with the Feminist School for Girls and Berkeley Women's Center.

Through her activism and her generally outgoing personality, she still had friends she had made back in kindergarten. Her friend Karen Thompson said in the 12 years she knew Sloan-Hunter, she quickly grew to love a friend who loved her back in such a singular way.

Her published works include articles in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the Civil Rights Digest, as well as the very first issue of Ms. Magazine and subsequent issues.

Her essays and poems can be found in such magazines as the Lesbian Path and For Lesbians Only. Her books include the 1995 Black and Lavender: The Collected Poems of Margaret Sloan-Hunter.

Instead of a sombre funeral, Thompson said her friends and family will hold a memorial party and dance at the Montclair Women's Culture Arts Club in Oakland on Oct. 29. A website (http://www.margaretsloanhunter.com) the family set up in her memory invites people to her memorial party with a quote from Sloan-Hunter:  “We women are the best thing going. We are warm, passionate, we cry and we live! Let's celebrate.”

Ms. Magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem said Sloan-Hunter united feminist and black identities.

“She used to say, ‘I'm not black Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a woman Thursday, Friday and Saturday,”’ Steinem said. “She really made clear that the black woman could be, and had to be, loyal to both her race and her gender.”

In addition to her daughter, survivors include her mother, Virginia Wilson of Chicago, and a sister, Barbara Cross of Sedona, Ariz.

A memorial celebration party and dance was held October 29th at the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club in Oakland.  

Source: Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network -- http://uk.gay.com/headlines/6972