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One hundred years ago...

the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. While we recognize that in practice, millions of women of color remained disenfranchised by Jim Crow laws and other racist practices (many of which persist even today), we at Piccolina are celebrating the trailblazing women from over the years who led the charge to gain suffrage for women in the United States.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (1798 - 1883) (born Isabella "Belle" Baumfree) was an American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son in 1828, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth took up the issue of women's suffrage. She was befriended by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but disagreed with them on many issues, most notably Stanton's threat that she would not support the Black vote if women were denied it. Although she remained supportive of women's suffrage throughout her life, Truth distanced herself from the increasingly racist language of the women's groups.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818 - 1894) was an early suffragist, editor, and social activist, having attended a session of the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention. Bloomer was also a fashion advocate who worked to change women's clothing styles. Even though she did not create the women's clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy. In January of 1849, she began editing The Lily, the first newspaper by and for women which became a model for later women's suffrage publications.

Frances Harper

Frances Harper (1825 - 1911) was an abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer, one of the first African American women to be published in the United States. In 1851, alongside William Still, chairman of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, she helped refugee slaves make their way along the Underground Railroad on their way to Canada. In 1853 she began her career as a public speaker and political activist after joining the American Anti-Slavery Society. Harper founded, supported, and held high office in several national progressive organizations. In 1883 she became superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women's Christian Temperance Union. In 1894 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president.

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin (1863 - 1952) was a Métis Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians Attorney and Native American rights activist. In 1911, Baldwin chose to be photographed in traditional dress with her hair in braids for her personnel file photo for the Office of Indian Affairs. This simple photograph was a radical act for its time, when she would have been expected to assimilate into white American culture. In 1913, organizers of the Washington, DC, suffrage march attempted to racially segregate the parade, but Baldwin, along with some women of color, walked alongside white women.

Alice Paul

Alice Paul (1886 - 1977) was an American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders and strategists of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Paul initiated and strategized events such as the Woman Suffrage Procession and the Silent Sentinels, which were part of the successful campaign that resulted in the amendment's passage in 1920.

Mabel Ping-Hua Lee

Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (1896 –1966) was a Chinese advocate for women's suffrage in the United States, a member of the Women's Political Equality League and the head of the First Chinese Baptist Church in New York's Chinatown for more than 40 years. Born in China, Lee was raised in New York for the majority of her life and was the first woman to receive a PhD. from Columbia University.

She became a well-known figure in the women's suffrage movement and rode horseback in the 1912 New York pro-suffrage parade.

Despite the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which allowed all American women the right to vote, Lee remained unable to vote because of her status as an immigrant, as dictated by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, having served from 1933 to 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms in office, and served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. Roosevelt was a prominent supporter of women’s political engagement, playing leadership roles in several organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the Women’s Trade Union League and the Women's Division of the New York Democratic Party. In her first year as First Lady, Roosevelt worked hard to keep women involved in establishing and evaluating the New Deal. She created a list of women qualified for executive level appointments, urged the Roosevelt administration to hire them, and, when their suggestions did not get a fair hearing, did not hesitate to take their ideas directly to the president.

She also held press conferences (covered by women reporters only) to keep information before women voters and to urge women to speak their minds on politics, policy, and their individual hopes and dreams.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) was an American social reformer and women's rights activist who was one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she was inspired by the Quaker belief that everyone was equal under God.

Anthony traveled the U.S. giving speeches demanding that women be given the right to vote.

At times, she risked being arrested for sharing her ideas in public. Although Anthony was also a high profile abolitionist, advocating publicly for an end to slavery, she has been criticized for focusing her suffrage activism on the right of white women to vote as opposed to all women, and for her friendship with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who made several racist remarks during the course of her speeches.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1914) was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom, including her family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

During the American Civil War, she served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army.

In her later years, Tubman was an activist in the struggle for women's suffrage and became known as an icon of courage and freedom.

Ida B. Wells

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (1862 – 1931) was a prominent African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, and early leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Born into slavery just before the Emancipation Proclomation, Wells was involved in many different groups focused on the equality of African-Americans and women.

She was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women's Club, which dealt with issues around civil rights and women's suffrage.

In 1913, she founded what was possibly the first black women suffrage group, the Chicago's Alpha Suffrage Club. She was also a part of the founding of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, but later distanced herself from the group.