Black women led the charge against R. Kelly. They’re part of a long tradition.Roundup
tags: African American history, womens history, African American Women, R Kelly
Danielle McGuire is the author of “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.”
When singer R. Kelly was arrested and indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse last week, it was his name that made headlines. But a litany of women should have gotten attention, too, for all their hard work that led to this moment: Dream Hampton, executive producer of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly”; Kenyette Tisha Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, the founders of the campaign to #MuteRKelly on radio and streaming services; Kim Foxx, the first black woman to serve as Cook County state’s attorney; and scores of survivors and their families who bravely testified about Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct.
These women are part of a critically important — and too often overlooked — tradition. Black women have had to organize largely in defense of themselves, often without help from white women allies or even black men. Their testimonies and campaigns for justice have been catalysts for some of the most important social movements in U.S. history.
Allegations of sexual assault, molestation and child pornography by Kelly stretch back to the 1990s, when he married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah Haughton and settled a lawsuit brought by Tiffany Hawkins, who said Kelly began having sex with her when she was in high school. Chicago Sun-Times reporters Jim DeRogatis and Abdon M. Pallasch filed the first investigative report of similar allegations from other young women in December 2000.
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