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3 Black Women that Led the Suffrage Movement

The day has finally arrived. Election day—you guys are heading to the polls to vote…right? Regardless of the many opinions that have been floating around this election, regardless of your personal thoughts, regardless of who you even plan to vote for (I don’t want to side-eye sis so please do the right thing), the overall point is you get out there, and you make your voice heard. If not for you, for the babies of our future. And if not for them, for the black women who paved the way and helped make this whole thing even possible for you, our children, and our children’s children.

Now that I’ve said my quick piece, today we want to honor the black women who were involved in one of the most important movements for us as, black women. Though history books may sometimes wash away our involvement, the facts are, black women were some of the most active and dedicated activists of the suffrage movement.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One of the most well-known advocates for women’s rights is Sojourner Truth. Born in 1797, Sojourner lived 28 years as a slave. As an abolitionist, she traveled across the early nation to speak out against both slavery and women’s rights, soon becoming a voice to be heard during the suffrage movement. Her iconic speech in 1851 “Ain’t I a Woman”, at the Women’s Rights Convention testifies Truth’s unwavering belief and dedication to the equal rights of women, blacks, and most importantly, black women.

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men,
’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ
come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman, 1851

Anna Julia Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper

Born in 1848 in North Carolina, Anna Julia Cooper was a slave that lived on to become a strong voice in the civil rights, women’s right, and suffrage movements. In her life, Anna held many prestigious positions as she worked to level the playing field for black women, like founding the black women’s club movement, writing about slavery and civil rights, and advocating for women’s education. Cooper’s voice lives on today with one of her most notable quotes

Only the black woman can say “when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.

Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South, 1892

Ida B. Wells

Ida B.Wells

When it comes to women of the movements, we must take a moment to discuss activist, journalist, suffragist, and feminist, Ida B. Wells. Wells was a daughter born in 1862 to slaves just six months before the Emancipation Proclamation. She is most widely known for her legendary anti-lynching crusade and her journalist writings about racial inequalities and injustice in the south. By the end of the 19th century, Wells became heavily involved in the suffrage movement even going on to establish the Alpha Suffrage Club with black women in Chicago and helped members of the organization to participate in the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

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