2020 will soon be coming to an end. It also means the end of the Centennial Celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Unfortunately that last sentence is questionable at best. Given the ugly headlines we have dealt with every day about the tragedies of this year, there was little to make us think about the significance of the centennial, much less celebrate. Additionally, saying the ratification gave women the vote, leaves out the fact that all women did not gain the right to vote. It was not until 1965 that Black women were finally granted the right to vote.
It was not as if Black women did not participate in the fight for the right to vote. Scores of them worked shoulder to shoulder with white women but then were forgotten when the battle had been won. White women were not prepared to treat their Black sisters as equals. Coralie Franklin Cook, who considered Susan B. Anthony her idol, said of Anthony, “thousands of torches lighted by her hand will yet blaze the way to freedom for women.” By 1921, however, Cook retired from the movement because, while she considered herself “born a suffragist”, she said the movement had “turned its back on women of color”.
We will do our best as this “centennial” year comes to a close to educate and entertain you while honoring a number of the Black suffragists. Earlier we posted an article on the life of Mary Church Terrell. You might begin your education on Black suffragists by reading that HerStory post.