This day has been designated by Congress to commemorate the ratification, in 1920, of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

African American Women and Suffrage

From the National Women’s History Museum

Many African American women were highly active in the woman suffrage movement. In the antebellum period, like Anglo women, many black women became active abolitionists and supporters of women’s rights….

In the 1880s and 1890s, black women, like their white counterparts, began to form woman’s clubs. Many of these clubs included suffrage as one plank in their broader platform….In addition, black women founded clubs that worked exclusively for woman’s suffrage, such as the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, founded by Ida B. Wells in 1913….

Despite this strong support for woman’s suffrage, black women sometimes faced discrimination within the suffrage movement itself….In the suffrage parade of 1913 organized by Alice Paul’s Congressional Union, black women were asked to march in a segregated unit. Ida B. Wells refused to do so, and slipped into her state’s delegation after the start of the parade.

When the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, it legally enfranchised all women, white and black. However, within a decade, state laws and vigilante practices effectively disenfranchised most black women in the South.

It would take another major movement for voting rights – the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s – before black women in the South would be effectively enfranchised.

Sources of Photo Captions: Wikipedia

Further reading:

President Obama’s proclamation on this day celebrating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and outlining both our country’s achievements with regards to women’s equality and the gaps still needing to be filled.