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Women's History Month: 2021

"Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced"

"The National Women’s History Alliance is determined that the important roles of multicultural suffragists and voting rights activists continue to be recognized and honored. We refuse to allow their voices to be silenced, even by a pandemic."
More information: National Women's History Alliance

Historical Activists

Christia Adair (1893-1989) - secretary of the NAACP, fought against Texas's "White Primary," which banned all voters of color from primary elections (further information)

Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin (c. 1884-1965) - president of Negro Women's Suffrage League in Pittsburgh, national field secretary of the NAACP (further information)

Ella Baker (1903-1986) - activist and organizer who helped create both the SCLC and SNCC in the 1960s (further information)

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin (1863-1952) - lawyer, member of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa, clerk in the federal Office of Indian Affairs (further information)

Sophonisba Breckinridge (1866-1948) - vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, first woman to practice law in Kentucky, dean of Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, and editor of Social Service Review (further information)

Melnea Cass (1896-1978) - community organizer who worked on the local, state, and national levels; active in the NAACP, NACW, Women's Service Club, Women in Community Service, Action for Boston Community Development, Boston Equal Rights League, and several other organizations; known as the "First Lady of Roxbury" (further information)

Coralie Franklin Cook (1861-1942) - educator and one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women (further information)

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) - public speaker and advocate for suffrage and civil rights, she continued demonstrating until she was 90 (further information)

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) - former sharecropper who became a voting-rights activist in 1962 when she first learned she had the right to vote (further information)

Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (c. 1895-c. 1966) - helped lead one of the largest suffrage marches in the country's history in 1912, even though Chinese-born immigrants could not become naturalized citizens until 1943 (further information)

Lucy Nicolar (1882-1969) - member of the Penobscot nation in Maine, advocated for better access to the mainland for the island reservation; in 1954, after fighting for the repeal of a state law that disenfranchised reservation-dwelling Indians in state elections, became the first such person to vote in Maine (further information)

J. Frankie Pierce (1864-1954) - suffrage and desegregation activist, founder and superintendent of Tennessee Vocational School for Colored Girls, a school for "delinquent" girls intended to prepare them for college as well as the workplace (further information)

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842-1924) - founder of the first African-American-women's newspaper and the first such civic organization (further information)

Charlotta Rollin (1849-?) - founder of the South Carolina chapter of the American Woman Suffrage Association (further information)

Florida Ruffin Ridley (1861-1943) - daughter of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, helped her organize the Women's Era Club and editor of the Woman's Era (further information)

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) - a former slave, Truth is known as an abolitionist, but she also spoke out in favor of suffrage (further information)

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) - Tubman is best known for her actions with the Underground Railroad, but after the Civil War, she began giving speeches in favor of voting rights and equality (further information)

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) - best known as an anti-lynching activist, Wells-Barnett was also a significant figure in the fight for suffrage (further information)

Wilhelmine Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett (1861-1929) - leader of the Women's Equal Suffrage Association of Hawai'i (further information)

Zitkála-Šá, aka Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (1876-1938) - Yankton Sioux, worked at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, advocated for Native American voting rights (further information)

Current-Day Activists

Stacey Abrams (1973- ) - former nominee for Georgia governor, founder of Fair Fight, an organization devoted to protecting voting rights (further information)

Arekia Bennett (1993- ) - executive director for Mississippi Votes (further information)

LaTosha Brown (1970- ) - co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund (further information)

Helen Butler - executive director for the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda (further information)

Melanie L. Campbell (1961- ) - president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women's Roundtable (further information)

Kristen Clarke (1997- ) - president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, nominee to become head of US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (further information)

Dolores Huerta (1930- ) - with Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, has been an activist and community organizer for over 65 years (further information)

Esmeralda Simmons (1950- ) - civil rights lawyer and founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College (further information)

Ciara Taylor (1990- ) - co-founder of Dream Defenders, an organization devoted to issues affecting young people of color (further information)

Allie Young (1990- ) - founded both Protect the Sacred and Ride to the Polls during the Covid-19 pandemic (further information)

Additional Readings and Resources

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