GREATER KANSAS CITY BLACK WOMEN SUFFRAGIST COMMITTEE
The year 2020 was a year of commemoration in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave American women the right to vote. Did the 19th Amendment include all women? Clearly, the racism of the time impacted the inclusion of Black women and other women of color.
The intersection of suffrage and abolition is evident in the efforts of some of the better-known Black voices of the time such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper who spoke against racism within the suffrage movement. Voices such as Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell would follow.
Undaunted, Black women persisted in the struggle for suffrage. Missouri and Kansas women were among them. Who were these women?
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“to enshrine the lives of those who dedicated themselves to a just cause, to illuminate the dynamic history of local suffrage and the fight for women’s rights and to inspire our community to continue to protect the right of all people to vote”.
Who We Are?
The Greater Kansas City Black Women’s Suffragists Committee (GKCBWSC) was formed in the Fall of 2020 to identify area Black women suffragists and activists whose names should be made known to the public and commemorated in a permanent manner through an artistic medium that brings attention to their respective contributions.
Black Women and Activism
The long history of black women’s activism intersects with the struggles for abolition, suffrage, economic freedom, and civil rights. Black women have not had the privilege of advocating for any singular issue. The fights for freedom, racial uplift, voting and civil rights have and continue to be interwoven. We choose to honor women whose fights for justice crossed these boundaries. Given current efforts to suppress the vote, there is no better time than now to call attention to the valiant struggle for voter and civil rights fought by these women and countless others as we renew the fight to achieve full enfranchisement for all.
Black Women’s Club Movement
Local, state and National Black Women’s clubs frequently included suffrage work in their activities. Women’s social reform organizations such as the segregated Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTC) founded in 1874, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) founded in 1896, among others dedicated to racial betterment, emerged resolutely in the late nineteenth century. These grass-roots organizations were made up primarily of middle-class women who were part of the larger progressive reform effort. Black women formed social and civic organizations to provide services, financial assistance, moral guidance and to fight for civil and political rights. Many of the groups grew out of religious and literary societies and were a response to the intensified racism in the late nineteenth century.
Women We Honor
Anna H. Jones (b.1855-d.1932)
Myrtle Foster Cook (b. 1871-d.1951)
Important Dates To Remember Black Women’s Suffrage Activities
1851-Sojourner Truth gave her powerful “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron.
1893-Kansas City Colored Women’s League Founded.
1895-Two national federations of Black local clubs were formed
1896-The two Black national federations merged. Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells Barnett and others found the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACW)
1900 (June 20,21)-Kansas State Federation of Women’s Arts Clubs organized and over the next 10 years, quickly enlarged its membership and expanded its activities beyond Art.
1904 (July 26)-The National Association of Colored Women-incorporated in St. Louis, Missouri.
1913 – Ida B. Wells founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, the nation’s first Black women’s club focused specifically on suffrage.
1916-the NACW passed a resolution in support of the woman suffrage amendment.
1965-Voting Rights Act- Protects All Citizens’ Right to Vote under the 14th and 15th Amendments
Important Dates to Remember Women’s Suffrage
1848 – Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention
1869 – National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) & American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) founded.
1878 – Susan B. Anthony’s Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in the US Congress.
1890 – NWSA & AWSA merge together to become the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA)
1912 – Kansas passed full woman suffrage, supporting the Equal Suffrage Amendment to be added to the state constitution. Kansas became the eighth state to grant full suffrage to women.
1919 (July 3) – Missouri ratified the Nineteenth Amendment.
1920 (August 26th) – The 19th Amendment is officially ratified.