The Women’s Suffrage Movement Included More Than Two Women And So Should The Monuments

tags: African American history, suffrage, womens history, African American Women

Michelle Duster is an author, speaker, and writing professor at Columbia College Chicago. She has written, published and contributed to a total of nine books. She is currently writing a biography of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells.

Countless women fought for over 70 years for the women’s right to vote and August 18, 2020 will be the centennial of the 19th amendment. Over the past few years there has been an increased focus on how to commemorate this 100th year anniversary.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, a wide variety of women fought for the same rights; however, there was contention between some white women and Black women. In many situations, Black women had to fight in order to be included in the movement.

These prominent women included Sojourner Truth, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, and Ida B. Wells, just to name a few. Wells worked with white suffragists in Illinois, and also founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, which was the first suffrage group for African American women. She and some white activists from the Illinois delegation went to Washington, DC to participate in the 1913 suffrage parade. Once there, Wells and all other Black women were asked to march in the back of the parade. The reason given for this request was to make white Southern women feel comfortable. It was extremely clear that the theory of sisterhood espoused by these white women did not align with Black women’s lived experiences. Of course, some Black women did not comply with the dehumanizing request, but that those white women had the audacity—and comfort level—to even ask exemplified how Black women were often disregarded in a whites-only suffragette movement.


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