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1619: The First Enslaved Africans are Brought to the English Colony of Virginia

August of 1619 marks the beginning of the slave trade, an industry colonist and their descendants profited from for centuries. Slave traders used myths about physical racial differences to justify the enslavement of abuse of Black bodies.

Enslaved Black people are subjected to all forms of violence, including sexual and physical violence.

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1800s: Reproductive Violence against Enslaved Women

“Colonial laws did not protect enslaved people from sexual violence. Enslavers were free to sexually exploit, abuse and control their enslaved property.” Black people were treated as property.

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1826: Cesareans without Consent

1840s: Dr. James Marion Sims – The “Father of Gynecology” 

1865: 13th Amendment

Late 1800s - Early 1900s: Black Codes

Early 1900s: Erasure of Black Midwives

1900s - 1970s: Forced Sterilization

1920: 19th Amendment

1932 - 1972: Tuskegee

1934: Redlining

1935: Title V

1950 - 1960s: Civil Rights Movement

1951: Henrietta Lacks

1956: Puerto Rico Pill Trials

1960s: “Mississippi Appendectomy”

1965: The Supreme Court's decision in the Griswold v. Connecticut case legalizes contraception for married couples on the basis of marital privacy.

1966: National Organization for Women

1968: The Fair Housing Act

1968 - 1974: Ongoing Forced Sterilizations in California

1968: Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA)

1973: Roe v Wade - Right to Privacy

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, establishing that the specific guarantee of “liberty” in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individual privacy. The Constitution reaffirmed Liberty as the right to make personal decisions about family, relationships, and bodily autonomy.

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1980s - 2023: Black Lives and Public Health

1981: Title V was converted to a Block Grant program

1989: Rebirth of Black Feminism or Afro-feminism

1994: The International Conference on Population and Development

1997 - 2023: Ongoing Forced Sterilization

1999 - 2023: Title V Equity for CA MCAH Action

2000s: Rebirth of Black Birthwork

2018: Black Maternal Health Week National Campaign Launches

2019: BLACK Wellness & Prosperity Center Launches

2019: Black Maternal Health Caucus

2019: SB 464

2021: SB 65

2022: Roe v. Wade Overturned

2020: AAC Launches

2021: BLACK Doula Network (BDN) Launches

2023 - 2024: BDN Continued Growth- Certifying First Two Cohorts

Glossary - Reproductive Health Definitions

Afrofeminism, Black feminism

A movement within feminism that focuses on the African American women's experiences. It recognizes how classism, racism and sexism shape the experiences of the BLACK WOMAN, and how these experiences make Black women's worldviews fundamentally different from those of the Black man and White woman. It believes that racism, classism and sexism must be addressed simultaneously in order to bring equity for Black women.

National Museum of African American History and Culture: The Revolutionary Practice of Black Feminisms: 

Epidemic, Pandemic, and Endemic

Informed Consent


IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)


Reproductive Justice or Birth Justice

Right to Privacy


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