The National Woman's Party and Suffrage for African-American Women
Note: With the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, leaders of the National Woman's Party planned to hold a ceremony at the nation's capital in February 1921, timed to coincide with the 101st anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony. They planned as well a national convention of the NWP and anticipated the attendance of representatives from more than one hundred women's organizations. The purpose of this meeting was to celebrate the passage of woman suffrage and define the organization's new priorities in the changed circumstances.
Association for the
December 17, 1920
Miss Lucy Burns
My dear Miss Burns:
I am writing to you as an advisory member of the National Woman's Party asking if you will arrange that at the meeting, February fifteenth, a colored woman be invited to speak. I would suggest as the speaker, Mrs. Mary B. Talbert, until last June president of the Federation of Colored Women. . . .
There was little voting and much terrorizing of Negroes in the South during the past elections and at Ocoee, Florida, there was a massacre. But equally sinister was the refusing to register women at such a place as Hampton, Virginia, where Hampton Institute has through many years endeavored to maintain kindly feelings between the two races, and yet where colored women were so insulted when they attempted to register that one woman said: "I could kill the clerk who questioned me; I could kill his wife and children."
If the South means to awaken a spirit like this it will eventually have war to face. But I believe that the Negro woman can win her right to vote if she is upheld by the rest of the country. . . . Will you not therefore, endeavor to have a committee appointed out of your great meeting in February which shall investigate and take some action regarding the status of the colored woman? The Woman's Party must have in its membership, South as well as North, women of broad enough vision and deep enough purpose to attack this problem. And if the women attack it, it will be solved.
Hoping that you will do something in this matter, I am,
-- Excerpts from letter from NAACP representative Mary
White Ovington to Lucy Burns, 17 December 1920
4. What did Mary White Ovington suggest to the National Woman's Party?
5. Why did Ovington believe that the support of the National Woman's Party could help African-American women achieve the vote?
To Document 4
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