Black artist, civil rights activist, and founder of the Mothers of Gynecology in Montgomery, Alabama, Michelle Browder included a stop at GLIDE’s Freedom Hall this month as part of her West Coast tour.
Michelle is busy raising funds for various civil rights projects, including the building of her Mothers of Gynecology Clinic and Wellness Museum scheduled to open in 2025.
She spoke to a small group of passionate GLIDE folk about the importance of reconciliation and healing in a country still suffering from the legacy of slavery.
During her presentation, Michelle made light of the ongoing racism that still exists in Montgomery pointing to the recent riverfront brawl that attracted nation-wide attention.
“The white mob attack that happened at the waterfront; folks were injured, and you heard the word “nigger” being said,” recounted Michelle. “We are regressing as a society. We need to sit down with each other, have conversations with each other.”
Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy
Michelle stressed the importance of why the Mothers of Gynecology was created in the first place. “We are honoring three enslaved women, Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy. Three women who were sterilized and experimented upon with neither consent nor with anesthesia by Dr. J. Marion Sims,” said Michelle.
The 15-foot monument honors all three women and helps serve as a lynchpin for further discussion on such subjects as sex trafficking.
Michelle hopes the creation of her Mothers of Gynecology Clinic and Wellness Museum will also serve as a space for doulas and midwives. And to pay tribute to the Relf sisters, who the U.S. government involuntarily sterilized along with over 100,000 women primarily from Black, Latina, and Indigenous communities spanning several decades.
Healing Alabama’s Racist Past
For Michelle, Montgomery must evolve into a place of healing and restoration. “The three Rs of reckoning, repenting, and repairing Alabama’s racist history is what must come first,” said Michelle.
Among the many projects on Michelle’s plate includes the funding for a new memorial in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be built along the road from Montgomery to Selma, where Dr. King led thousands of non-violent demonstrators in 1965 in a march to campaign for voting rights.
“Our duty is to help lead the conversation. We need some type of restorative justice and a resurgence of love and empathy.”
If you or someone you know is in need of support, whether it’s food, rental assistance, legal services, harm reduction services, or just a shoulder to lean on, come by GLIDE’s Walk-In Center.