Black Women Were Part of Women’s Suffrage Too
Today, August 26th, marks 100 years since white American women gained the right to vote.
While Black women were on the front lines of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, only white women received the right to vote that we routinely celebrate on this day. The women’s suffrage movement was not free of white supremacy and racism and the Black women who organized, strategized, and mobilized were routinely erased from that history. On this anniversary of the Suffrage Movement, we must salute the Black women who helped pave the way for our right to vote today.
As our country continues to reckon with its racist roots, we must recognize that pivotal moments in history such as the 19th Amendment ratification and the Women’s Suffrage Movement have also been fraught with white supremacy, and contribute to how anti-Black racism shows up in social justice movements today.
The 19th Amendment did not grant Black women their legal right to vote as many were still unable to cast a ballot due to the pervasiveness of voter suppression and white supremacy that continues today. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights act of 1965 that Black women and people could cast their ballot without restrictions. Even today, Black people are still more likely to be purged from the polls and voting rights have still not been restored to the Voting Rights Act.
PPGNY recognizes the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment by honoring the legacy of these historic Black women who were on the frontlines for freedom and democracy:
- Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Angelina Weld Grimke, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and countless others were resilient in the face of backlash, erasure, and racism — a true testament to their passion, commitment, and self-determination.
- From sisterhood to suffrage — early members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated joined the suffrage movement as a means for social and political advancement — marching even when their presence was met with racism, and prevailing to form their own organizations like the National Association of Colored Women.
We must honor their legacies, say their names, and share their stories in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and in reverence of revolutionary Black women who have had to wait to have their full humanity and leadership recognized.
Ensuring that all people exercise their right to vote is a critical contribution to these women’s historical legacy.