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In fact, the National American Woman Suffrage Association prevented Black women from attending conventions. In suffrage parades, Black women oftentimes had to march separately from their white counterparts. When famous suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony wrote the History of Woman Suffrage, they all but completely ignored the contributions of Black suffragettes.
Although the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Black women did not functionally have the ability to vote due to laws which discriminated against Black Americans. As a result, Black Americans had to continue fighting for true suffrage until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. Finally, after over a century of women by Black women, voting was more equitable.
As a result of the unique position they were in, Black women typically became advocates for universal suffrage rather than advocating for suffrage only for Black men or for women. When the 15th Amendment was ratified, Black women supported the Amendment but were also critical of it since it did not include women. To help focus on their issues, Black women started organizations which catered to them such as the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, founded by journalist and suffragette Ida B. Wells.
Nonetheless, Black women played an important role in getting both the 15th and 19th Amendments passed. The 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote, and the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. However, Black women were in a difficult position in this struggle for suffrage. Black men wanted support on racial issues, while white women expected their support as fellow women. As a result, Black women faced a unique struggle, and were unable to address how both their race and gender affected their rights.
Black women were active participants in the struggle for women’s suffrage and suffrage for Black Americans. Additionally, as more Black women began working for churches, schools, and other places in the late 1800s, they gained a larger platform to share their ideas. However, many people still did not listen to them. Civil rights organizations were typically led by Black men and white women, so Black women were excluded.
Photo of Ida B. Wells, an incredible journalist and suffragette, and one of the founders of the NAACP.