photo by: http://www.idabwells.org/
The women’s suffrage movement has been part of the American history for centuries. Many people tend to believe that African American women didn’t contribute to the women suffrage movement in the United States. This is far from the truth. According to the National Women’s History Museum, article called “African Women and Suffrage”: many African American women were highly active in the woman suffrage movement and they were supports of women’s rights. Today, the question that comes to many of today’s African American women is: Even though Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a great support for the women suffrage movement which involved Susan B. Anthony, then why wasn’t Ida B. Wells-Barnett embraced by Susan B. Anthony and the other white count partners in women’s suffrage movement? And why did they have to protest separately, if they were marching for the same cause?
The African Women and Suffrage Movement article went on to state that for centuries African American women have in fact been a part of the movement from the very start—right along with Caucasian women. Pioneers such as Sojourner Truth, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Mary Eliza Church Terrell, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin. Many Historians have reported that in the 1880s and 1890s, African American alongside their white counterparts, began to form woman’s clubs. These clubs included the women suffrage as part of their programs. Out of these clubs came the: The National Association of Colored Women (NACW), founded by Wells-Barnett. The National Baptist Woman’s Convention, and in 1913 Wells-Barnett founded the first African American women club called the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago. She also established several notable women’s organizations such as The National Afro-American Council. Wells also formed the Women’s Era Club, the first civic organization for African-American women. This later was named the Ida B. Wells Club, in honor of its founder.
The article also made mentioned to the fact that even though black women supported and help the
National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), they were often discriminated against and told that they could not join each other clubs for the cause, it had to be black and white women separated all the way down the line. In that same year in a demonstration that took place in Washington D.C., both white women and black women were also told that they had to march separately. The Caucasian women would march in front while the African American women would march from behind. To Ida this was nonsense. I could really see her point of view. If I were invited by the NAWSA to come an participate in this huge protest and I had come from a long distance to get there and then when I arrive, I’m told to step to back. Is this not a Jim Crow law that was taking place right there in Washington D.C. not Birmingham, Alabama? I would be upset also. I too would make a stand at this point. And that is exactly what she did.
During my investigation, I came across two YouTube videos that demonstrate why Well-Barnett became involved with the women’s suffrage movement. I truly hope that these documentaries will shed light on the women who influence such a historical moment in history in which women of both colors are fighting for their right to vote in the United Sates. The first video is called Ida B Wells- Women’s rights:
The second one is: Women Suffrage Documentary:
I also found this interesting article called: “Ida Wells-Barnett confronts race and gender discrimination.” This article describes what to place when the women’s suffrage crusade paraded on Washington in 1913 in which Ida did an act that stun both white and black women and society in general at this period of time frame. She actually came out of nowhere to the front of the line and began marching with two Caucasian women. This was her Kodak moment.
Furthermore, I have stumbled across many articles on African American women and the female suffrage movement, however, none of those articles showed evidence showing where both black and white women walked side by side during a demonstration. Then, I finally, found a website that showed a one picture of two African American Women and several Caucasian women marching together in New York City. This picture actually made me confused, because I was led to believe, by the many articles I had read on many websites that pointed out that black women and white women did not rally together during the suffrage crusade. Is this not a contradiction somewhere in our history?
Alas! During my research on Ida Well-Barnett and the African America women’s suffrage movement, I was looking for proof that would support the claim that the suffrage movement was not created equally among the two sets of women who were both fighting for the rights of women to vote. There was Ida B. Wells-Barnett on one side of coin and then we had Susan B. Anthony on the other side. She was once quoted as saying, “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”
If what Susan B. Anthony said is true, then she truly did not embrace her fellow African American support which would have included Ida B. Wells-Barnett. It was noted that they were friends and respected each other. With all that being said , Ida had been featured in dozens of local and national newspapers and magazines, and someday, she would s leave behind a legacy, she was never accepted by Caucasian women in the north or south, she was just another black woman who fought for the right to vote.
Most Historians have document in several sources that in 1920 both white and black women in the United States won the right to vote, however it wasn’t until 1960, that African Women could truly vote. But This time around African American woman had a great voice thanks to Ida B. Wells and other African American’s that have paved the way.