North Texas Daily

Activist Feminista Jones guest speaks for Black History Month event

Activist Feminista Jones guest speaks for Black History Month event

Activist Feminista Jones guest speaks for Black History Month event
March 04
11:00 2023

The university’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access hosted Feminista Jones for its IDEA speaker series in partnership with the Black Student Union. 

Jones is a writer, activist and social worker who rose to prominence via social media. Her work has been featured in numerous  publications like The Washington Post and Time Magazine.

“We’re incredibly excited – she has great energy,” said Assistant Vice President of IDEA Teresa McKinney. “She is talking about the intersection of identity – she is a protégé of Kimberlé Crenshaw. She is also about student activism, and so we’re most excited about this opportunity to partner with the Black Student Union bringing her to be able to share with them and [other] student organizations we hope to be there, about how they can lend voice to issues that are important to them in the community, on campus and in their respective identities here at UNT.”

This is the first year that IDEA has hosted its diversity speaker series. The event was introduced by McKinney, BSU President Kayla Booker and Vice President Kendrian Collins. Previous guests were ABC News correspondent John Quiñones to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in September, followed by activist Saul Flores for International Day of Tolerance in November. 

“It was a pleasure being able to not only meet Feminista, but to be able to be present to receive such great knowledge and wisdom from her,” Collins said. “I really like how she was very transparent with the audience, open to answer any questions and really emphasized on staying true to herself. I noticed that many of the things she highlighted, the audience, including myself, was able to resonate with her points.”

Much of Jones’ lecture was aimed at giving advice to students who may feel they are struggling in a world filled with social media and unfair standards.

Feminista Jones signs copies of her book “Reclaiming Our Space” after her lecture at the Lyceum on Feb. 23, 2023. Gabe Houser

“If we continue to allow others to define and shape the way we are supposed to live and exist in this world, we will be crunched up,” Jones said during the lecture. “It will kill us. Freedom and liberation begins within, and it starts with knowing that you have the right to be yourself, and not enough of us know that.”

In addition to the lecture and audience Q&A, the event included an autograph session for Jones’ 2019 book “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets,” as well as a charity drive. Attendees were able to donate various items to the Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas.

“BSU was definitely happy with the donations we received,” Collins said. “We understand that donations no matter how big or small, are greatly appreciated. We know that the times we are in now are a little challenging with inflation. We are very elated to have had students come after Feminista Jones’ presentation to assist with packing bags for the shelter. All the efforts for this project are very appreciated.”

The Jones lecture was one of several events hosted by the Black Student Union for the month of February as part of their “BET: Black Excellence Transcending” event.

“My mom knew of Feminista Jones before this event, but I hadn’t,” director of marketing for BSU Maurice Cruz said. “After this event, I could definitely understand what made Feminista memorable to my mom. The insights that she shared for Black women were empowering. I made the flier, coordinated with IDEA and helped with the setup. This preparation was a month in the making but ultimately worth it to amplify Black women.”

Jones used a variety of quotes from seminal Black leaders including Carter J. Woodson, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and Anna J. Cooper throughout her speech. In her hour-long lecture, Jones was able to touch on a wide array of issues such as homophobia, workplace discrimination and critical race theory as well as her background and activism journey. Throughout the lecture, Jones emphasized the importance of fostering communities and staying true to oneself, especially in spaces that do not make Black students feel accepted.

“I really liked the quote Feminista highlighted in her presentation, ‘If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive’ by Audre Lorde,” Collins said. “I think for me personally, many of us fall into the trap of always worrying about how others view us and letting others dictate our choices. This tends to derail us from living our true, authentic selves. I know starting off at UNT, I was told so many times to go with a certain career for me to make the most money. As I was trying to pursue that path, it was so difficult for me because that wasn’t my passion. It took some time for me to really embrace that I must choose my own adventure.”

Featured Image Feminista Jones poses for a photo next to copies of her book “Reclaiming Our Space” in the Lyceum on Feb. 23, 2023. Gabe Houser

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Celie Price

Celie Price

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