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Minnie Bruce Pratt

Minnie Bruce Pratt was born in Selma, Alabama, on September 12, 1946. Pratt attended the University of Alabama, where she graduated with a B.A. in 1968. While at the University of Alabama, Pratt met her husband Marvin E. Weaver II, with whom she had two children: Ben and Ransom. She later moved to Chapel Hill to attend the University of North Carolina,  where she became involved with feminist and lesbian collectives. Pratt and Weaver divorced in 1975 so that Pratt could live openly as a lesbian. Because of North Carolina’s “crime against nature” law, Pratt lost custody of her children, as she was deemed an unfit parent because of her lesbian identity. In 1977 Pratt helped to found WomenWrites, a southeastern lesbian writers conference. She also joined Feminary: A Feminist Journal for the South Emphasizing the Lesbian Vision in 1977 and worked on the periodical until 1982. During this period Pratt helped organize support for the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1979 Pratt earned a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1982, she relocated to Washington, D.C., where she co-founded LIPS, a lesbian affinity group, and later led protests against the U.S. Supreme Court 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick. In 1990 Pratt wrote Crime Against Nature about her experience losing custody of her children. Other written works by Pratt include Rebellion: Essays 1980-1991 (1991), Walking Back Up Depot Street: Poems (1999), and The Dirt She At: Selected and New Poems (2003) which she received the Lambda Literary Award. Pratt worked as an organizer for the Workers World Party and participated in the red feminism movement. In 1992 Pratt met her longtime partner, activist Leslie Feinberg, and moved to New Jersey. In 2005 she became a professor at Syracuse University, where she was instrumental in establishing the university’s LGBT studies program. Feinberg and Pratt married in New York and Massachusetts in 2011 and Pratt retired from Syracuse University in 2015. She died on July 2, 2023. For more on Minnie Bruce Pratt, see Minnie Bruce Pratt by Kathleen Jones.