For years now, I'd see this famous photograph with Toni Morrison and others. I was curious. Who are the other women? What were they doing together? When was the photograph taken?
I'd see the photo and have those questions. Fortunately, the homegirl Courtney Thorsson had some answers.
She discusses the photograph and the context for the image in her forthcoming book, The Sisterhood: Black Women's Literary Organizing, an interpretive cultural history of The Sisterhood (Columbia University Press). She recently wrote an episode about that photograph and group of extraordinary women for Remarkable Receptions -- a podcast about African American novels that I'm co-editing with Elizabeth Cali.
Courtney writes that "This photo documents a Sunday afternoon when, at the invitation of writers Alice Walker and June Jordan, a group of Black women gathered in February 1977 at Jordan's apartment to eat gumbo, drink champagne, and talk about their work as writers, activists, and feminists. They gathered around a framed portrait of Bessie Smith and took a photo that is now iconic."
The full episode is read by voice actor Kassandra Timm. The episode is embedded here: