Walker’s Legacy is thrilled to announce that today is the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage. In honor of this day, the contributions of Black Women as hidden pioneers must be highlighted. As they have always been found on the frontlines of the fight for equality.
“The courageous Black women in the suffrage movement laid the groundwork for organizations such as Walker’s Legacy to continue supporting and empowering multicultural women. Madam C.J. Walker was one of these women and today we celebrate them all.” -Natalie Cofield, Founder and CEO, Walker’s Legacy and Walker’s Legacy Foundation.
Below you will find information on the hidden pioneers of women’s suffrage:
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was the first African American woman to publish a short story. On top of this, she was also an influential abolitionist, suffragist, and reformer that co-founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary, was the first female African American newspaper editor in North America when she started the Black newspaper The Provincial Freemen. Later in life, she became the second African American woman in the United States to earn a law degree.
Mary Church Terrell was a well-known African American activist who championed racial equality and women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th century. An Oberlin College graduate, Terrell was part of the rising black middle and upper class who used their position to fight racial discrimination.
Nannie Helen Burroughs, fiercely advocated for the rights of people of color, particularly women. She helped found the National Association of Colored Women with Mary Church Terrell, was appointed by President Herbert Hoover to chair a special committee on housing for African Americans and acted as a central figure in the network of African American suffragists in the D.C. area
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, was a prominent journalist, activist, and researcher, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In her lifetime, she battled sexism, racism, and violence. As a skilled writer, Wells-Barnett also used her skills as a journalist to shed light on the conditions of African Americans throughout the South.
The Seneca Falls Convention on July 19th and 20th, 1848 marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement when 200 women came together united in the cry for change. As the movement gained momentum, white women quickly became the face of the suffrage. Meanwhile revolutionary Black women such as the few highlighted above were working nonstop behind the scenes.
One of the many ways in which women’s suffrage was eventually gained was via the efforts of local, regional, and national clubs and organizations. Such as the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago which was founded by Ida B. Wells in 1913. The Club was a significant influencer in the passage of the Illinois Presidential and Municipal Suffrage Bill. Which allowed African American women in Chicago the opportunity to merge their social welfare activities with electoral power.
When discussing the history and importance of the women’s suffrage movement it should be noted that the ‘hidden pioneers’ were the nation’s true heroes. The dedication and resilience of the Black women that never received proper credit is what truly propelled suffrage for all women. This is why on this centennial anniversary, Walker’s Legacy honors them.