Loretta J. Ross is a founder and the National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective, composed of 70 women of color organizations across the country.
She was the Co-Director of the April 25, 2004 National March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C., the largest protest in U.S. history. She is also the co-author of Undivided Right: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice
(2004, South End Press).
Ross’ areas of expertise are reproductive rights, human rights, women’s issues, diversity issues, hate groups and bias crimes.
Ross is the founder and former Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE), a training and resource center for grassroots activists on using human rights education to address social injustices in the United States. Prior to that, from 1990 to 1995, she served as the national program research director for the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal (CDR) (formerly the National Anti-Klan Network). CDR is a national, non-profit clearinghouse for information on hate groups and bigoted violence, including the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi movement. Ross directed specific projects on far right organizations in South Africa and Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi involvement in anti-abortion violence in the U.S.
Ross’s involvement in women’s health issues was initiated as a result of a personal triumph. She was one of the first African American women to direct the first rape crisis center in the United States in the 1970s. Women’s human rights are of significant concern for Ross because she was sterilized at age 23. Ross was also one of the first black women to win a suit against A.H. Robins, manufacturer of the Dalkon Shield that sterilized thousands of women worldwide.
As an advocate for social justice, she has coordinated several conferences that address the reproductive rights movement and violence against Third World women. She co-coordinated the first national conference on Violence Against Third World Women in 1980. From 1985 to 1989, she served as the Director of Women of Color Programs for the National Organization for Women. She also organized a second “first,” a national conference on Women of Color and Reproductive Rights in 1987. She successfully organized women of color delegations for the massive pro-choice marches sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1986 and 1989. In 1990, she coordinated the first national conference of African American Women and Reproductive Rights as Program Director for the National Black Women’s Health Project.
The year 1989 was marked by the publication of a popular brochure for African American women called “We Remember.” A quarter million copies were distributed in a project she co-coordinated with Donna Brazile, then director of the National Political Congress of Black Women.
Ross is co-author, with 3 other writers, of the book Beyond the Politics of Inclusion: Women of Color in the Reproductive Rights Movement
(2004, South End Press). She is currently authoring a book on a black women’s activism in the reproductive rights movement called Black Abortion.
Other writing projects include editorials for the Progressive Media Project for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain and she serves as a political analyst for Pacifica News Service and Alternative Radio. Ross has appeared on talk shows such as The Donahue Show, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN, BET Lead Story, and Good Morning America. She has also been featured in Emerge Magazine, Biography Magazine, San Antonio Express News,
and the Los Angeles Times.
For the last two years, she has also been collecting oral histories of elder feminists of color for archives at Smith College.
Ross was invited to testify before the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and the Food and Drug Administration on women’s health and human rights issues. She served eight years on the Washington D.C. Commission for Women. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Foundation for African American Women, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment, and SisterLove Women’s AIDS Project. Ross received an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law degree in 2003 from Arcadia University.