Black women know how to stand up against the powers that be, make history and provide for a good photo op at the same time. Black women have stood up to the power of the state - armed police and all - and have not flinched, and have not backed down. That’s that Harriett Tubman energy right there.

In recent years, there was the iconic photo of Ieshia Evans, a Black woman and a nurse from Pennsylvania who stood graceful and silent against a formation of riot police in the summer of 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Evans was among a group of protesters who demonstrated in the wake of the police deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, and were arrested for blocking a highway. Back in 2017, filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry had highlighted photos of Evans and other Black women standing up to police in a Twitter thread.

A year earlier, Bree Newsome Bass, another Black woman, made the daring move to climb a 30-foot flagpole at the South Carolina State Capitol and remove the Confederate flag. “You come against me with hatred, oppression, and violence,” said Newsome Bass, an educator and organizer from North Carolina. “I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today.” She was arrested for taking a stand, which came only ten days after the horrific massacre at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, where a white supremacist killed eight Black parishioners and their pastor.

Back in the day, there was the Black woman who punched a police officer in the face, or another who smoked a cigarette while standing next to an armed officer, and yet another who shoved away a national guardsman’s rifle.

In another iconic photo from back in the day, Louise Meriwether (a.k.a. Louisa Jenkins), a writer and activist, is shown nonchalantly smoking a cigarette while standing next to two police officers questioning her at a protest.

Then there was Gloria Richardson, who shoved away the bayonet of a National Guardsman during a 1963 protest in Cambridge, Maryland. As a civil rights activist and the leader of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, Richardson fought against racial segregation and discrimination in the Maryland city.   

And finally, there is the photo of a Black woman punching a Milwaukee police officer during the civil unrest of the summer of 1967. That image is powerful, capturing the anger and frustration not only of that particular woman, but also the rage and despair facing Black people during that long hot summer, when police violence and bad police-community relations were under the spotlight. As the Kerner Commission reported on the causes of the 1967 urban uprisings that took place throughout the nation, “The police are not merely a ‘spark’ factor. To some Negroes police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression. And the fact is that many police do reflect and express these white attitudes. The atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a ‘double standard’ of justice and protection - one for Negroes and one for whites.”

Decades before Black Lives Matter, Black women were showing up, showing out, and showing us how to do it. And today, they continue to hold it down and speak truth to power. The pictures tell the story and provide us with everything we need to know. Sisters, we salute you.

David A. Love, JD - Serves

BlackCommentator.com as Executive

Editor. He is a journalist, commentator,

human rights advocate, a Professor at

the Rutgers University School of

Communication and Information based in

Philadelphia, a contributor to Four

Hundred Souls: A Community History of

African America, 1619-2019, The

Washington Post, theGrio,

AtlantaBlackStar, The Progressive,

CNN.com, Morpheus, NewsWorks and

The Huffington Post. He also blogs at

davidalove.com. Contact Mr. Love and


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