How Women Got the Vote Is a Far More Complex Story Than the History Textbooks Reveal

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tags: education, suffrage, voting rights, womens history

History is not static, but histories can paint a picture of events, people and places that may end up being forever imprinted as the “way it was.” Such has been the case with the tale of how women secured the right to vote in America. A new exhibition “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence,” on view through January 2020 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, aims to expose and correct the mythology that has informed how most Americans have understood the suffrage movement.

“Votes for Women” offers a wide-ranging overview—through 124 paintings, photographs, banners, cartoons, books and other materials—of the long suffrage movement that originated with the abolitionist movement in the 1830s.

The show’s ample 289-page catalog provides rigorously-researched evidence that the history we’ve relied on for decades, delivered in grade school civics classes was in part myth, and, a literal white-washing of some of the movement’s key players.

White suffragists frequently sidelined the African-American women who advocated and agitated just as much for their own voting rights. These activists endured a dual oppression because they were black and female. “This exhibition actually tries to take on the messy side of this history, when women were not always supportive of each other,” says Kim Sajet, the museum’s director.

Read entire article at Smithsonian.com

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