Barbara Smith is an author, activist, and independent scholar who has played a groundbreaking role in opening up a national cultural and political dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. She was among the first to define an African American women’s literary tradition and to build Black women’s studies and Black feminism in the United States. She has been politically active in many movements for social justice since the 1960s. Her career is documented in Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY Press).
Smith was a cofounder of the Combahee River Collective in 1975 and of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press in 1981, the first U.S. publisher for women of color to reach a wide national audience. She served two terms as a member of the City Council in Albany, New York from 2006 to 2013. In 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.