Two Women Who Misbehaved
Many women are to be commended for their work as suffragists. These brave, future thinking people took to the streets to march for the right to vote. Because of them we have the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately, that right was not fully extended to all American women until the 1960’s when, at last, African American women could vote.While there are many we owe a debt of gratitude to, here is a brief look at two of these folk heroines.
Mary Church Terrell
The daughter of former slaves, Terrell was the first African-American women to study at Oberlin College in Ohio. She earned a college degree in 1884 and went on to earn a master’s degree. Afterwards, she became the first African-American woman appointed to a school board.
She was challenged by the fact that most national women’s organizations excluded African-American women. At a speech before the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1904, she said, “My sisters of the dominant race, stand up not only for the oppressed sex, but also for the oppressed race!”
Her credits include becoming a charter member of the NAACP and opposing Jim Crow laws by suing a Washington restaurant for refusing to serve African-American customers.
Freeman was no stranger to law enforcement encounters that led to many arrests. She was adept at turning those unsavory experiences into media opportunities. She was creative in her strategies as she worked with suffrage groups across the country.
Her strategies included speaking at public events, such as movie houses. Well-thought out tactics also included driving a wagon through Ohio. Stopping in every town along the way, she passed out literature and spoke to those who gathered. In some instances, she attracted listeners by dressing as a gypsy.
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