“The biggest victory is that we did fight…that we came together and we fought. And that we have that history to build on.”
—Kipp Dawson

Women’s Strike for Peace and Equality, New York City, Aug. 26, 1970. 

Photo: Eugene Gordon—The New York Historical Society

A black and white photo of young Kipp Dawson with glasses and a mining helmet.
Dawson in her coal mining gear

Photo: Marat Moore, Women in the Mines: Stories of Life and Work, New York : London: Twayne Pub, 1996.

Women’s Strike for Peace and Equality, New York City, Aug. 26, 1970. 

Photo: Eugene Gordon—The New York Historical Society

An activist, coal miner, and educator, Kipp Dawson organized on the frontlines of nearly every major freedom struggle in the second half of the 20th century through the early 21st century. She participated in and helped to lead some of the largest and most well-known sit-ins, rallies, marches, and campaigns that led to crucial victories. Yet the movements sustained constant defeats and setbacks, and Dawson’s own social identities – as a lesbian, Jewish, working-class woman, from a multi-racial family – frequently meant she faced government surveillance, harassment, and intra-movement bigotry. Using peer-reviewed scholarship as well as interactive tools from the digital humanities, Kipp Dawson: The Struggle is the Victory documents her lifetime of work.

This public history site offers a multimedia, open educational resource authored by students, staff, and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, Emory University, and West Virginia University. The collaboration brings together a group of researchers, independent scholars, and technologists across generations, institutions, and disciplinary backgrounds. Our goal is to provide access to Dawson’s story through her own words, writing, photographs, documents, and movement ephemera as well as historical context and analysis. Using an intersectional, feminist lens to view the remarkable breadth and depth of Dawson’s coalitional activism, we suggest a re-thinking of leadership within social movements.

Building on the crucial work of civil rights historians who have offered alternative understandings of Black women’s leadership, we move away from a traditional, patriarchal leadership model, with a solo leader at the top of a hierarchical organization. 1  We also consider how that reframing applies across movements, inspired by scholars of the “long civil rights movement” who have placed that freedom struggle in conversation with others beyond the 1960s, and a formulation of a “movement of movements.” 2  We approach Dawson’s lifetime of work through a framework that we are calling “radical collaboration.” Women have often performed the invisible labor of this intentional, transformational, and diffuse form of leadership. Radical collaboration prioritizes relationship-building, fosters community care networks, and redefines movement goals. Through radical collaboration, Dawson and her colleagues challenged what bell hooks called “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” across multiple movements and decades. 3 

Significantly, by putting Dawson’s efforts in a collective context, radical collaboration has helped our team to set aside the question of leadership, instead emphasizing movement networks, and to more fully appreciate the scope, interconnectedness, chronology, and efficacy of social movements.

Dawson with the Untied Mine Workers of America at the 1981 national solidarity day action with striking air traffic controllers in Washington D.C
UMWA women at the Pro-Choice March on Washington D.C., 1989.

Photo: Courtesy of Kipp Dawson
Kipp Dawson stands in between her wife and two daughters outside. Her daughters hold signs that say "Together we Rise" and "PATRIARCHY" with flames painted on it.
Dawson with her wife, Eileen Yacknin, and daughters Hannah and Leah, at the Women’s March in Washington D.C., January 2017.

Photo: Courtesy of Kipp Dawson

This site includes:

  • In Her Words: Two bibliographies, including one of Dawson’s own writing, with published books, reports, articles, and op-eds, many of them available online. A second bibliography lists published sources, interviews and exhibits about Dawson.
  • Oral Histories: a selection of video excerpts from interviews with Dawson for the Women Miner’s Oral History Project. 
  • Speeches: a multimedia platform to compare written versions of Dawson’s speeches, drawn from the new Kipp Dawson Papers archive, along with posters for the events, photographs of her giving those speeches, and recordings of Dawson re-creating select speeches along with contemporary commentary. 
  • Mapping the Movements: A brief scholarly essay about the role of “Love, Joy, and Hope” in movement resilience, accompanied by StoryMaps detailing the geography of Dawson’s involvement in six major social movements through images, sound, video, and text.
  • Bio, Timeline, Scholarly Sources, and links to Archives with additional Dawson material provide further information and analysis.
  • Dawson’s Collaborators: This collection of short bios and photographs will help illustrate Dawson’s extensive connections to social movement leaders, both famous and less well-known.

This site follows best practices and accessibility standards for digital humanities projects. We are committed to the principles of intersectional feminist design and universal design.


[1] This rich body of scholarship includes Charles Payne, Barbara Ransby, Katherine Mellen Charron, Ashely Ford, Keisha Blain, Lisa Levenstein, and Jeanne Theoharis among others.

[2] Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past” (The Journal of American History, Vol 91, No. 4; March 2005), pp. 1233-1263; Van Gosse, “A Movement of Movements: The Definition and Periodization of the New Left,” in A Companion to Post-1945 America, Jean-Christophe Agnew and Roy Rosenzweig, editors (Blackwell Publishing, 2006).

[3] bell hooks, Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2012).


  • Erica Chan, MFA
  • Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde. Edited by Suzanne W. Churchill, Linda A. Kinnahan, and Susan Rosenbaum. University of Georgia, 2020.
  • John Zimmerman, Professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Photos Courtesy of Kisha Bari for the Women’s March, Kipp Dawson, Catherine Evans, Jessie Ramey, and Jessie Wilkerson
Kipp Dawson stands with a group of women at a gathering, holding a sign that says "This Unionist says: Fight AIDS, Not Arabs. Coalition to Stop US intervention in the Middle East"
Dawson at the 1991 anti-war march in D.C. with her sign saying “This Unionist Says: Fight AIDS Not Arabs.”

Courtesy: Kipp Dawson Papers, Box 7, Folder 12
Kathy, Kipp Dawson, and Jessie Ramey hug in front of a stage at a Democratic conference.
Dawson, center, with Kathy Newman and Jessie Ramey at the Public Education Forum hosted in Pittsburgh with the Democratic Party presidential candidates, December 2019.

Photo: Courtesy of Jessie Ramey

image credits

  • “Anti-war rally poster,” April 15, 1967. Image: FoundSF Digital History Archive.
  • “Battle of Blair Mountain commemoration,” October 2021. Image: Missy Hunt, United Mine Workers Journal, Sept-Oct 2021.
  • “Buttons from The Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,” October 11, 1987. Image: Collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Division of Medicine & Science.
  • Dawson, Kipp et. al., Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics: A Marxist Appreciation (NY: Pathfinder Press, 1971).
  • Dawson, Kipp. Gay Liberation: A Socialist Perspective (New York: Pathfinder, 1975).
  • “Dawson in hard hat.” Image: Marat Moore, Women in the Mines: Stories of Life and Work, New York : London: Twayne Pub, 1996.
  • “Dawson speaking at Oberlin College,” 1971. Image: Walter Lippman in Les Evans, Outsider’s Reverie: A Memoir, Boryanabooks, 2010.
  • “Dawson speaking in Kezar Stadium,” April 15, 1967. Image: The Militant.
  • “Dawson teaching,” March 2017. Image: PublicSource, March 17, 2017.
  • “Dawson testifying,” January 2016. Image: Rebecca Drake, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 7, 2016.
  • “Free Speech Movement,” Image: Ron Enfield.
  • “Judy Collins singing at Anti-Vietnam War Rally. Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, CA. 1967” Image: Lisa Law, Smithsonian Museum of American History.
  • Kipp Dawson Papers, 1951-2021, AIS.2022.10, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System.
  • “Montgomery, Alabama,” March 30, 1965. Image: AP Wirephoto.
  • “NAACP picket of the Cadillac agency on Van Ness Avenue,” March 14, 1964. Image: Bancroft Collection: BANC PIC 1959.010–NEG, Part 3, Box 206, [03-14-64.01:05].
  • “National Student Coalition Against Racism button.” Image: African American Activist Project, Michigan State University.
  • “Radicalesbians at the 2nd Congress to Unite Women,” 1970. Image: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.
  • “Second Congress to Unite Women poster,” 1970. Image: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
  • “Sexual Freedom League Statement of Position,” 1960s. Image: Berkeley Historical Plaques Project.
  • “Sheraton Palace Hotel sit in,” March 8, 1964. Image: Art Frisch, San Francisco Chronicle.
  • “The Ladder,” June 1966. Image: Smithsonian Museum of American History.
  • “Vietnam Day Committee poster,” 1966. Image: Oakland Museum of California.
  • “Women’s National Abortion Action Coalition poster,” 1971. Image: Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

how to cite this project

This non-commercial project is intended for educational purposes only. The material used here has been gathered in good faith according to fair use standards with full citations of all sources. To cite or provide attribution to this site, we recommend you use the following:

  • MLA Style:  Kipp Dawson: The Struggle is the Victory. Edited by Jessie B. Ramey, Jessica Wilkerson, Amelia Golcheski, and Catherine Evans. Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, 2023. Accessed [day-month-year].
  • Chicago Manual of Style: Jessie B. Ramey, Jessica Wilkerson, Amelia Golcheski, and Catherine Evans, “Kipp Dawson: The Struggle is the Victory,” Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, 2023, accessed [date],

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