We are in the midst of seeing the impact from the African American Women vote. When you think of women earning the right to vote in the United States you’re most likely picturing those late 1800s/early 1900s suffragettes marching around cities. You’re also picturing them all as white. But, that is an example of the whitewashing of history. In fact, African American women were crucial to the suffrage movement and many of those who had fought to end slavery went on to fight for women’s rights.
To put this into prospective, slavery was abolished in the US in 1865 and women finally got the right to vote 54 years later. The Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the right to vote was first introduced in Congress in 1878, 13 years after the end of slavery. Too often it can seem like there was a huge gap between these two events taking place, but in fact it was just a few decades and the two events had many of the same people involved. That is why for Women’s History Month this year I want to highlight some of the African American woman who helped women get the right to vote in the United States.
Hallie Quinn Brown 1849-1949
Hallie Quinn Brown was the founder of the Colored Woman’s League of Washington DC which was later merged into the National Association of Colored Women. In 1893 she was one of five African American women at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in Chicago, a week long convention that more than 150,000 people attended.
Harriet Tubman 1822-1913
Harriet Tubman is best known for freeing slaves and the Underground Railroad but once slavery ended she didn’t just sit back and retire, oh no, she went on to fight for women’s rights. She worked alongside famous suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland with speaking engagements in New York, Boston, and Washington DC. Sadly she died before she ever got to see women get the right to vote.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary 1823-1893
Much of Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s work was focused on the abolition of slavery. In fact, she was the first female African American newspaper editor in North America. But she also worked along side Susan B. Anthony and even testified before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. She was also the first African American woman to vote in a national election.
Sojourner Truth 1787-1883
You most likely learned about Sojourner Truth’s extraordinary life in school because of her connections to the ending of slavery, but you never learned that she went on to fight for women’s right to vote. Quite famously she delivered a speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention called “Ain’t I a Woman?” In it she called for equality for all women as well as all blacks. The speech took place in 1851, more than a decade before the end of slavery. She gave a number of speeches throughout her life fighting both for the freedom of her people and for women’s rights at the same time.
I am proud of these women because I was able to VOTE. Voting is about being heard, and they allowed us the opportunity to exercise our right to be heard.
LaToyia, The Motivated Mom