Selma James Biography

Selma James (born 15 August 1930), is a co-author of the women's movement classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign and coordinator of the Global Women's Strike.

Selma James (née Deitch) was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930. As a young woman she worked in factories and then as a full-time housewife and mother. At the age of 15 she joined the Johnson-Forest tendency, one of whose three leaders was CLR James.

In 1952 she wrote the classic A Woman’s Place, first published as a column in Correspondence, a bi-weekly newspaper written and edited by its readers with an audience of mainly working-class people. Unusually at the time, the newspaper had pages dedicated to giving women, young people and Black people an autonomous voice. James was a regular columnist and edited the Women's Page. In 1955 she came to England to marry CLR James, who had been deported from the United States during the McCarthy Period. They were together for 25 years and were close political colleagues.

From 1958 to 1962 James lived in Trinidad where, with CLR James, she was active in the movement for West Indian independence and federation. Returning to England after independence, she became the first organising secretary of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in 1965, and a founding member of the Black Regional Action Movement and editor of its journal in 1969.