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Stewart Lecture Series - Loretta J. Ross

The James A. Stewart Lecture Series presents Loretta Ross “Calling People in to Persuade Toward Justice,” March 2024. Use this guide to explore Professor Ross's work in reproductive justice and inclusive dialogue.

About Loretta J. Ross

Loretta J. Ross - MacArthur Foundation

Copyright: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Loretta J. Ross, renowned feminist, human rights activist, and scholar, is currently Associate Professor of the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College (Northampton, MA). With a focus on issues such as racism, sexism, and reproductive health, Ross has lectured at universities across the United States and authored numerous publications, including "Reproductive Justice: An Introduction." Her dedication to amplifying marginalized voices and fostering inclusive dialogue has earned her widespread recognition as a trailblazer in the pursuit of equity and dignity for all. Here are just a few highlights of her impressive career:

  • First director of the National Organization for Women's (NOW) Women of Color Programs, organizing the first national conference on Women of Color and Reproductive Rights in 1987
  • National Program Research Director for the Center for Democratic Renewal/National Anti-Klan Network from 1991-1995
  • Co-founder of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective in 1997 and National Director from 2005-2012
  • Co-director for March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, in 2004, up until that time the largest protest march in US history with 1.15 million participating
  • Winner of the MacArthur Fellowship ("Genius Grant") in 2022

More recently, Ross has been making interventions in public debate and discourse around "cancel" and "call out" cultures. She is currently working on a book entitled, Calling in the Calling Out Culture, which explores how we might hold others accountable for racist/prejudicial comments and actions without alienating them. Her work in this space has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR's TED Radio Hour.

Event Details

Stewart Lecture - “Calling People In to Persuade Toward Justice”

Monday, March 18, 2024
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM(ET)

131 E Minnesota Ave
DeLand FL 32723

This event is open to the public, no registration is required.

Stewart Lecture - Informal Discussion “Reproductive Justice, Race and Human Rights”

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM(ET)

131 E Minnesota Ave
DeLand FL 32723

Registration is required. Please contact Paul Croce,, 386-748-8322, if you are interested in joining the discussion.

For more information, contact: Caitlyn Alvarado, 386-822-7535,

Loretta Ross On Calling People In...

In her commitment to civil rights, rather than calling out those who disagree, Loretta Ross calls them in. Her message injects a message of loving our neighbors to polarized political debates. And that might increase the chances to enlist more citizens in the good but challenging work of achieving social justice.

"Calling in is really a call-out done with love... Instead of using anger, blaming and shaming as your method of achieving accountability, you use love, grace and respect."

Want to learn more about calling people in?

“What if we called people in, rather than calling them out?” Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Changing Our Minds, December 3, 2021.

What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?New York Times, November 19, 2020.

Longtime Activist Loretta Ross Speaks Out Against The Call-Out Culture, Connecticut Public Radio, August 13, 2020.

"I’m a Black Feminist. I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic,” New York Times, August 17, 2019.

Calling In Rather Than Calling Out: When #Me Too Meets Reproductive Justice, Rewire News Group, April 2019.

Speaking Up Without Tearing Down, Teaching Tolerance Magazine, Spring 2019.

Reproductive Justice

Much of Loretta Ross’s first civil rights work focused on what she called reproductive justice, with focus of attention on the living conditions women face in their sexual lives, in pregnancy, and as parents, the tangible issues of race and class behind the pro-choice versus pro-life public debates. Ross’s Informal Discussion on March 19th at 4pm will largely focus on these issues; please contact Paul Croce,, 386-748-8322, if you are interested in joining the discussion.

A Fundamental Violation of Basic Human Rights: An Interview With Loretta J. RossDissent, 2023.

“Reproductive Justice as Intersectional Feminist Activism,” Souls, January 2018.

Reproductive justice activists have dynamically used the concept of intersectionality as a source of empowerment to propel one of the most important shifts in reproductive politics in recent history. In the tradition of the Combahee River Collective, twelve Black women working within and outside the pro-choice movement in 1994 coined the term “reproductive justice” to “recognize the commonality of our experiences and, from the sharing and growing consciousness, to a politics that will change our lives and inevitably end our oppression.” Its popularity necessitates an examination of whether reproductive justice is sturdy enough to be analyzed as a novel critical feminist theory and a surprising success story of praxis through intersectionality. Offered to the intellectual commons of inquiry, reproductive justice has impressively built bridges between activists and the academy to stimulate thousands of scholarly articles, generate new women of color organizations, and prompt the reorganization of philanthropic foundations. This article defines reproductive justice, examines its use as an organizing and theoretical framework, and discusses Black patriarchal and feminist theoretical discourses through a reproductive justice lens.

“All this that has happened to me shouldn’t happen to nobody else” Loretta Ross and the Women of Color Reproductive Freedom Movement of the 1980sJournal of Women's History, 2010.

Loretta Ross exemplifies women of color feminist participation in and transformation of the women’s health movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Ross helped build a women’s health movement that by the late 1980s made the demands of women of color central. This movement was attractive to many women of color who had rejected the collapse of a broader women’s health movement into the abortion rights movement as too narrowly focused. Many women of color activists, including Ross, argued that the emphasis on abortion rights and choice failed to address the linked socioeconomic and community health issues confronted by many women of color and poor women. Ross’s work spurred coalition building among white women and women of color that focused on expanding reproductive justice and women’s health beyond legal abortion. By the 1990s these efforts had produced a vibrant and engaged feminist reproductive justice movement that promoted the socioeconomics of good health for all women.

Loretta Ross: The Crusader for Reproductive Justice, Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Spring 2007.

In the Feminist Fast Lane: A Profile of Loretta RossThe Progressive, 2007.

The "Sistersong Collective": Women of color, reproductive health and human rights, with Sarah L. Brownlee, Luz Rodriguez, and Latina Roundtable, American Journal of Health Studies, 2001.

Reproductive health among women of color suffers in the absence of true rights-based health care; the human rights framework should be an integral component of the health care system in the US. Ross et al present a case study of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Project founded in 1998 and its efforts to address the current reproductive health situation of women of color in the US.

“Let’s Talk about Sex, Not Abortion", Review by Loretta Ross - Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, by Katha Pollitt (New York: Picador, 2014), Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2016.


Reviewed Work: Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Elena Gutíerrez, Loretta Ross, Review by Rickie Solinger, NWSA Journal, Spring 2005.


The Future of US Reproductive Rights After Roe v. Wade, featuring Mary Ziegler, Loretta J. Ross, Erika Bachiochi, & Joshua Prager, TED, May 2022.

Our Bodies Our Doctors, documentary featuring Loretta Ross, from Kanopy, 2019.

Nearly 1 in 4 women have an abortion during their lifetime, yet the doctors who perform this commonplace procedure are rarely seen. The film follows these quiet heroes into the procedure room, showing their skill and compassion for women.

The Origin of the Term ‘Women of Color’

“Sticky Fingers, Sticky Conversations: BBQ and Reproductive Justice,” Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, August 2019.

More Reading

"White Supremacist Groups Promote Hate and Violence." Extremist Groups, written by Loretta Ross, edited by Tamara L. Roleff, Greenhaven Press, 2001.

Loretta Ross addresses white supremacy as an ideology that threatens American society. Its adherents believe they have a moral right to use violence whenever their interests are threatened, she maintains, and although relatively few Americans are white supremacists, a larger number endorse their beliefs.

"Bringing human rights home: Human rights education for the 21st century," co-written with Meghna Gupta, Social Education, Oct. 1998.

Ross and Gupta discuss the importance of human rights education, proposing that human rights must be to the 21st century what democracy was to the 20th--a liberating force that demands freedom and justice for all. The importance of human rights education is discussed.

Excerpts from the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project

The Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, based at the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, documents the persistence and diversity of organizing for women in the United States. Narrators include labor, peace, and anti-racism activists, artists and writers, lesbian rights advocates, grassroots anti-violence and anti-poverty organizers, and women of color reproductive justice leaders. Interviews average five to six hours and cover childhood, personal life, and political work. Most oral histories consist of videotapes, audiotapes, or audio CDs, unedited and edited transcripts, correspondence between interviewer and narrator, a biographical sketch, the interviewer’s interview guide, and occasional research material and photos. 


Interview with Linda Burnham by Loretta Ross, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, vol. 13 no. 2, 2016

Loretta Ross interviews Linda Burnham, activist, writer, and organizational consultant. Burnham co-founded the Women of Color Resource Center in Oakland, California, in 1989 and was its executive director for 18 years. A journalist and political activist, Burnham has been involved with the Venceremos Brigades, the Third World Women’s Alliance, the Alliance Against Women’s Oppression, and the Angela Davis Defense Committee. She edited the anthology Changing the Race: Racial Politics and the Election of Barack Obama (2009) and co-authored Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work (2010). Her recent writings focus on African American women, African American politics, and low-wage work.

Interview with Peggy Saika by Loretta Ross, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, vol. 10 no. 2, 2010

In this oral history, Saika underscores the lasting impact of the internment experience as a call to vigilance and action. She traces her political involvements from pan-Asian student activism in the late 1960s forward, marking her journey through various forms of organizing: direct service, civil rights, community organizing, and philanthropy. The interview offers a general outline of Saika's path as a postwar progressive who embraces her generation's challenge to build an ethnic movement that affirms Asian American identity and rights while it also advances a broad anti-racist, feminist, class-conscious social justice agenda.

Interview with Frances Beal by Loretta Ross, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, vol. 8 no. 2, 2008

In this oral history, Frances M. Beal describes her unique childhood as the daughter of parents of refugee Jewish, African American, and Native American descent. The interview focuses on her activism in the United States and in France, including founding the Women’s Committee of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). Beal’s story captures the challenges of anti-racist, anti-fascist, and anti-imperialist organizing with a gender perspective.

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