Margaret Sloan-Hunter, African American lesbian feminist activist and organizer, lecturer and writer, died Sept. 23 at the age of 57, in Oakland, Calif., after a long illness.
She was surrounded by her daughter Kathleen, mother Virginia, sister Barbara and members of her extended family.
Sloan-Hunter was involved in the liberation of oppressed people for most of her life. She joined Chicago CORE at the age of 14, organizing tenant unions and rent strikes and campaigning against lead poisoning on Chicago's West Side. During high school Margaret won numerous awards for public speaking, and at 17, founded the Junior Catholic Inter-Racial Council: a group of inner city and suburban students who worked together against racism through discussion and action. She attended Chicago City College as a speech major, Malcolm X Community College, and graduate school in Women's Studies at Antioch University in San Francisco.
Sloan-Hunter was involved in civil-rights activities throughout the South and North. In the summer of 1966, she participated in the Open Housing marches with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She later worked with Jesse Jackson in Operation Breadbasket as a coordinator of the Hunger Task Force team.
A tireless organizer in the Women's Movement, Sloan-Hunter was one of the early editors of Ms. Magazine. While based in New York, she lectured extensively with Gloria Steinem on sexism and racism throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In 1973, she founded and was first Chairwoman of the National Black Feminist Organization (NFBO). Sloan-Hunter gave more than 1,000 lectures at such institutions as Harvard and Yale, and grassroots groups like the National Welfare Rights Organization. She lectured in 48 states, three foreign countries and was awarded the key to the city of her birth, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Sloan-Hunter's published works include articles in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Civil Rights Digest and the first issue (and subsequent issues) of Ms. Magazine. Her essays and poems can also be found in The Lesbian Path, Intricate Passions and For Lesbians Only. She also published Black & Lavender: The Collected Poems of Margaret Sloan-Hunter in 1995. She made numerous TV and radio appearances, including the Today Show, the Phil Donahue Show, and the David Frost Show. She was a popular and humorous MC for many programs to benefit the women's community, such as the Main Stage at the West Coast Women's Music and Comedy Festival.
In 1975, she moved with her daughter to Oakland, Calif., where she worked as an organizer for the Berkeley Women's Center, the Feminist School for Girls and as a founder of the Women's Foundation. Sloan-Hunter also served on the Board of Directors of the Women's Alcoholism Center in San Francisco.
Her life's work and legacy will live on. She will be greatly missed.
See margaretsloanhunter.com .