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The Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective was the first "out" organization for lesbians, womanists and women of color in New York City[1]. The group is now the oldest black lesbian organization in the United States[1][2] [2].


Black Lesbian Caucus

The Salsa Soul Sisters grew out of the Black Lesbian Caucus of the New York City Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)[3], which in turn split in 1971 from the original Gay Liberation Front. They originally called themselves the Third World Gay Women's Association, with the informal moniker 'Salsa-Soul Sisters'.[3]

Salsa Soul Sisters

In 1974 the Black Lesbian Caucus reformulated itself as Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc, an autonomous group of Black and Latina lesbians offering its members a social and political alternative to the lesbian and gay bars, which had "historically exploited and discriminated against lesbians of color"[4][5]. The Sisters started by "searching out each other, because of the strong needs we have in common" but also to "grow to understand the ways in which we differ."[3]

Original sisters included founders Achebe Betty Powell (then Betty Jean Powell) and the Reverend Dolores Jackson, along with Harriet Austin, Sonia Bailey, Luvenia Pinson, Candice Boyce and Maua Flowers[6][7][8]

Early collective member and activist Candice Boyce noted that, at the time of the group's founding, "there was no other place for women of color to go and sit down and talk about what it means to be a black lesbian in America"[9] The founders hoped to create "an organization that is helpful and inspiring to third world gay women" and to "share in the strengthening and productivity of the whole gay community."[3]

The Jemima Writers Collective was formed by members of the Salsa Soul Sisters to "meet the need for creative/artistic expression and to create a supportive atmosphere in which Black women could share their work and begin to eradicate negative self images."[10]


Salsa Soul Sisters published several quarterly magazines, including Azalea: A Magazine by Third World Lesbians (Published c1977-1983)[4], and Salsa Soul Gayzette, (published: c1982)[5][11][12]

African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change

The Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc Collective has changed their name to the African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change. The group is "committed to the spiritual, cultural, educational, economic and social empowerment of African Ancestral womyn".[13]

See also


  1. ^ Smith, Barbara. The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, ed. Wilma Pearl Mankiller, Houghton Mifflin 1998, ISBN 0618001824 p337
  2. ^ Juan Jose Battle, Michael Bennett, Anthony J. Lemelle, Free at Last?: Black America in the Twenty-First Century, Transaction Publishers 2006 p55
  3. ^ a b c Salsa Soul Sisters Statement- cited in Nestle, Joan. When the Lions Write History inA Restricted Country. Firebrand Books, ISBN 0932379370, pp185-6
  4. ^ Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Women, Inc, ...where it can all come together," brochure, LHA Organization Files/Salsa Soul Sisters.
  5. ^ Molly Mcgarry, Molly & Wasserman, Fred. Becoming Visible, Penguin, 1998, 0670864013, p187
  7. ^ Gay Encyclopedia
  8. ^ Smith, Barbara. Doing it from Scratch: The Challenge of Black Lesbian Organizing (1995), in The Truth that Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender and Freedom, ed: Barbara Smith, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0813527619, p175
  9. ^ quoted in Deitcher, David (ed.). The Question of Equality: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America Since Stonewall, Scribner 1995, 0684800306 p79
  10. ^ Joseph, Gloria/ Lewis, Jill. Common Differences: Conflicts in Black and White Feminist Perspectives, South End Press 1986, ISBN 0896083187, p36
  11. ^ Covina, Gina/Galana, Laurel. (The) Lesbian Reader: An Amazon Quarterly Anthology, Amazon Press 1975, ISBN 0960962603
  12. ^ D'Emilio, John. Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University, Routledge, 1992 p261
  13. ^ African Ancestral Lesbians United for Social Change, Columbia University description of Social Movements. Retrieved on 24 March 2008.

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