Centennial of the 19th Amendment

August marks 100 years ratification of the 19th Amendment! Follow along here or on our social media this month as we feature womxn who fought for the right to vote - specifically the black, immigrant, and queer womxn who were erased.

Feature #8: Ida B. Wells
1862-1931

Wells was an investigative journalist, educator, activist, and early leader in the civil rights movement. Before becoming involved in the suffrage movement, she documented lynchings in the South and launched the nation’s first anti-lynching campaign. 

 

She worked to make African American womxn a force in electoral politics, and adamantly spoke out against racism in the womxn’s rights movement, challenging the white suffragists who sought to exclude Black womxn. 

 

In May 2020, Wells was awarded a Pulitzer Prize special citation for “her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.”

 

THANK YOU, Ida. In the face of sexism, racism, and terror you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #7: Alice Paul
1885-1977

Paul was the Founder and leader of the National Women’s Party and drafted the Equal Rights Amendment. She used new, radical tactics to fight for the right to vote.

 

Before Paul, marching and picketing did not happen in America. She organized picketing in front of the White House that lasted for months when her and several others were arrested. They were sent to workhouses where Paul led a hunger strike. 

 

Although she was one of the most critical leaders of winning the right to vote, it’s important to note that in the end, Paul did not include all womxn in her platform. She initially welcomed Black and immigrant womxn, and womxn of all classes, but later excluded Black womxn to gain the support of southern voters.


THANK YOU, Alice, for your work in ratifying the 19th Amendment. You were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #6: Zitkala-Ša
1876-1938

Zitkala-Ša was a Yankton Dakota Sioux writer, educator, musician, composer, and activist. In Washington D.C. she gave speeches to women’s organizations, testified before Congress on Indian appropriation bills, and advocated for the enfranchisement and U.S. citizenship of all Native people -- including women. 

 

When the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, at least one-third of Native adults still did not gain the right to vote, as they were considered wards of the federal government and not U.S. citizens. 

 

Zitkala-Ša continued her suffrage work, traveling the country, speaking to women’s groups, and calling on white women to use their newly won votes to enfranchise Native people.


THANK YOU, Zitkala-Ša. In the face of Native erasure and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #5: Carrie Chapman Catt
1859-1947

Catt was the president of NAWSA (National American Women’s Suffrage Association) where she played a huge part in helping ratify the 19th amendment. 

 

Although she did not believe in using tactics such as protesting, picketing, and striking, like Alice Paul, she was a sharp political strategist and her “winning plan” for the 19th amendment helped ensure victory. Catt founded the League of Women Voters after the 19th amendment passed.

 

Queer womxn were an integral part of the suffragist movement. It is well known that Catt was a lesbian and was in a Boston marriage with Mary Molly Garret Hay for 30 years. 

 

THANK YOU, Carrie. In the face of both homophobia and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #4: Mabel Ping-Hua Lee
1896-1966

Lee was a Chinese American advocate for women's suffrage. Her activism for womxn in both the U.S. and China drew the attention of leading suffragists. At the young age of 16 she was asked to help lead what would be one of the biggest suffrage marches in U.S. history (1912).

 

In 1921 Lee graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in Economics, the first Chinese womxn to do so. 

 

Even after the 19th Amendment was enacted, Lee remained unable to vote, as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese immigrants from becoming naturalized citizens. She and the many other Chinese suffragists in the U.S. have been largely ignored, yet their role in advocating for womxn’s rights on a transnational level prove that they played a vital part in the struggle. 

 

THANK YOU, Mabel. In the face of both racism and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #3: Jovita Idár
1885-1946

Idár was a Mexican-American journalist, activist, and civil rights worker. She wrote for La Crónica, in which she exposed the poor living conditions of Mexican-Americans and advocated for womxn’s suffrage.  

 

In 1911 Idár founded and became the first president of La Liga Femenil Mexicanista (the League of Mexican Women), which worked in Texas to offer free bilingual education to Mexican children, end the lynching of Mexicans, and promote civil and womxn’s rights. 

 

Idár and many other Latinx and Hispanic-American womxn were integral to the ratification of the 19th amendment, especially in the southern and southwestern states. Many became involved in the National Woman’s Party, and at a time when their land rights and language were under attack, asserted that the suffrage movement needed to include them and their concerns. 

 

THANK YOU, Jovita. In the face of both racism and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

Feature #2: Mary Church Terrell
1864-1954

Terrell was a suffragette, anti-lynching activist, and president and co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). She was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, graduating from Oberlin in 1884. 

 

Terrell joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and as one of its few Black members, advocated for further inclusivity because national women’s organizations often excluded African-American women. 

 

At a speech before the NAWSA in 1904, Terrell demanded, “My sisters of the dominant race, stand up not only for the oppressed sex, but also for the oppressed race!” 

 

THANK YOU, Mary. In the face of both racism and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.
 

Feature #1: Maria Stewart
1803-1879

Stewart was a radical journalist, teacher, lecturer, abolitionist, and women’s rights advocate. She was the first known American woman to speak to a mixed race and mixed gender audience, and the first African American woman to lecture about women’s rights and make public anti-slavery speeches.

She focused particularly on the rights of Black women, and was one of the matriarchs of Black feminist thought, calling on Black women especially to take on a more visible role in civil rights agitation.

 

In an 1831 declaration, Stewart stated, “O, ye daughters of Africa, awake! awake! arise! no longer sleep nor slumber, but distinguish yourselves. Show forth to the world that ye are endowed with noble and exalted faculties.”

THANK YOU, Maria. In the face of both racism and sexism, you were courageous, ferocious, and persistent.

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