From the March-April 2022 issue of News & Letters
As an activist with the Women’s Liberation Movement from its beginnings, Raya Dunayevskaya contributed an essay on “The Women’s Liberation Movement as Reason and as Revolutionary Force” to the anthology Notes on Women’s Liberation in 1970, and a special Appendix, “Women as Thinkers and as Revolutionaries,” to the pamphlet Working Women for Freedom in 1976, following a series of six lectures she gave at the Wayne State University Center for Adult Education for International Women’s Year. Her writings on Women’s Liberation were translated into Farsi for a pamphlet issued by Iranian women revolutionaries for International Women’s Day, 1980.
With the first publication of The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx, Dunayevskaya singled out the relationship of this last work to Marx’s early Humanist Essays that took up the Man/Woman relationship. She developed this in her third major work, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution.
Dunayevskaya is one of the rare women who founded her own revolutionary organization and she did it at the height of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt of communists. She led News and Letters Committees from its beginning in 1955 until her death in 1987. She also founded and then continued to deepen a unique philosophy, Marxist-Humanism.
In the process she corresponded with the women in her organization and with women revolutionaries worldwide, including Adrienne Rich (who wrote the Foreword to Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution), Natalia Trotsky, Maria Barreno, Selma James, Grace Lee Boggs, Tatyana Mamonova, Phyllis Ntantala, Gloria I. Joseph, Frigga Haug, Sheila Rowbotham, Meridel Le Sueur—and many more.
In this Women’s History Month you can explore for yourself the Raya Dunayevskaya Archives at: www.rayadunayevskaya.org and meet one of history’s most extraordinary revolutionary women.