history of women's suffrage

Women that have made history (and their signs)

Aries: Billie Holiday (African American jazz musician)

Taurus: Sandra Day O’Connor (first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court)

Gemini: Chien Shiung Wu (Chinese American nuclear physicist that contributed to the Manhattan Project and is often recognized as the First Lady of Physics)

Cancer: Frida Kahlo (Mexican painter known for her powerful self-portraits and artwork)

Leo: Amelia Earhart (first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo)

Virgo: Mother Teresa (20th Century symbol of humanitarianism known for her charity work and dedication to the Catholic Church)

Libra: Eleanor Roosevelt (changed the role of the First Lady as an activist, politician, and diplomat)

Scorpio: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (early leader of the women’s rights movement and writer of the Declaration of Sentiments)

Sagittarius: Emily Dickinson (revolutionized the world of poetry with her unique and unconventional writing style)

Capricorn: Zora Neale Hurston (African American novelist and anthropologist that gained notoriety during the Harlem Renaissance)

Aquarius: Corazon Aquino (first female president not only in the Philippines but in all of Asia as well)

Pisces: Kate Sheppard (appears on New Zealand’s 10 dollar note as a result of being the country’s most famous suffragette)

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As Susan B. Anthony’s name trends on Twitter — and as people blanket her Rochester, New York, grave in “I Voted” stickers — it’s worth remembering that Anthony’s legacy is a paragon of white feminism. Anthony’s pursuit of women’s rights came with a hefty dose of racism. On its website, the National Women’s History Museum is careful to emphasize that Anthony’s problem wasn’t with black men voting, per se.

follow @the-movemnt

The Evening Statesman, Walla Walla, Washington, January 21, 1910

“Sir, you’re a woman” hisses detective; “Sir, I am; what of it?”

Ida B. Wells

Civil Rights Activist, Journalist (1862–1931)

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. 

Born a slave in 1862, Ida Bell Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union, about six months after Ida’s birth, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation. However, living in Mississippi as African Americans, they faced racial prejudices and were restricted by discriminatory rules and practices. 

On one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884, Wells reached a personal turning point. Having bought a first-class train ticket to Nashville, she was outraged when the train crew ordered her to move to the car for African Americans, and refused on principle. As she was forcibly removed from the train, she bit one of the men on the hand. Wells sued the railroad, winning a $500 settlement in a circuit court case. However, the decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

This injustice led Ida B. Wells to pick up a pen to write about issues of race and politics in the South. Using the moniker “Iola,” a number of her articles were published in black newspapers and periodicals. Wells eventually became an owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and, later, of the Free Speech.

While working as a journalist and publisher, Wells also held a position as a teacher in a segregated public school in Memphis. She became a vocal critic of the condition of blacks only schools in the city. In 1891, she was fired from her job for these attacks. She championed another cause after the murder of a friend and his two business associates.

In 1892, three African-American men—Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart—set up a grocery store in Memphis. Their new business drew customers away from a white-owned store in the neighborhood, and the white store owner and his supporters clashed with the three men on a few occasions. One night, Moss and the others guarded their store against attack and ended up shooting several of the white vandals. They were arrested and brought to jail, but they didn’t have a chance to defend themselves against the charges—a lynch mob took them from their cells and murdered them.

These brutal killings incensed Wells, leading to her write articles decrying the lynching of her friend and the wrongful deaths of other African Americans. Putting her own life at risk, she spent two months traveling in the South, gathering information on other lynching incidents. One editorial seemed to push some of the city’s whites over the edge. A mob stormed the office of her newspaper, destroying all of her equipment. Fortunately, Wells had been traveling to New York City at the time. She was warned that she would be killed if she ever returned to Memphis.

Staying in the North, Wells wrote an in-depth report on lynching in America for the New York Age, an African-American newspaper run by former slave T. Thomas Fortune. She lectured abroad in 1893, looking to drum up support for her cause among reform-minded whites. Upset by the ban on African-American exhibitors at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Wells penned and circulated a pamphlet entitled “The Reason Why the Colored American Is Represented in the World’s Columbian Exposition.” This effort was funded and supported by famed abolitionist and freed slave Frederick Douglass, and lawyer and editor Ferdinand Barnett. Also in 1893, Wells published A Red Record, a personal examination of lynchings in America.

In 1898, Wells brought her anti-lynching campaign to the White House, leading a protest in Washington, D.C., and calling for President William McKinley to make reforms. 

Ida B. Wells established several civil rights organizations. In 1896, she formed the National Association of Colored Women. After brutal assaults on the African-American community in Springfield, Illinois, in 1908, Wells sought to take action: The following year, she attended a special conference for the organization that would later become known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Though she is considered a founding member of the NAACP, Wells later cut ties with the organization; she explained her decision thereafter, stating that she felt the organization—in its infacy at the time she left—had lacked action-based initiatives.

Working on behalf of all women, Wells, as part of her work with the National Equal Rights League, called for President Woodrow Wilson to put an end to discriminatory hiring practices for government jobs. She created the first African-American kindergarten in her community and fought for women’s suffrage. In 1930, Wells made an unsuccessful bid for the state senate. Health problems plagued her the following year.

Ida B. Wells died of kidney disease on March 25, 1931, at the age of 68, in Chicago, Illinois. She left behind an impressive legacy of social and political heroism. With her writings, speeches and protests, Wells fought against prejudice, no matter what potential dangers she faced. She once said, “I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”

One hundred years ago today, Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, took her seat as the first woman in Congress. She rose to political prominence as a strong advocate for women’s suffrage, and in this letter to fellow suffragist Harriet Burton Laidlaw, she describes some of the organizing efforts she was a part of in her home state.

Jeannette Rankin. Letter to Harriet Burton Laidlaw. June 22, 1914.  [Scrapbook… in support of women’s suffrage.] New-York Historical Society.

Hey, white women, can we talk for a second? Yep, you too. Everybody in a huddle real quick. 

Originally posted by uswntinmotion

Everybody here? Okay good. 

I voted for Clinton, but I am just as responsible for what is going on in our country right now as those voted for Trump. I am upset and devastated that the majority of white women who voted voted for Trump. I understand why and the systems in place that made women think they should vote for him, but I also need to remind you of a few things. 

Just because you borrow a white man’s privilege by being married to one or being surrounded by them doesn’t mean that privilege is really yours. It means that you only get it for a time. When a man decides he is no longer interested in you, that is when you discover the power was never actually yours. Don’t rely on white men to understand and protect you. They don’t understand because they simply are not taught to do so. 

There is a fucked up system in place of being a person who is oppressed and oppressing others. We see this all the time. We know why bullies bully. It’s because they feel insecure and unsafe in other parts of their lives. But you need to keep in mind that just because you aren’t on the bottom of the pile, doesn’t mean you aren’t being crushed in that pile. You are not on top. Why are you voting to keep others beneath you, rather than voting to climb out of the pile entirely?

There is a photo of Trump and his wife voting that I think everyone saw. In it Trump is attempting to see how she is voting. (There is one of his son doing the same thing, only in even more blatant fashion.)

I think that is a good summation of what a lot of white women subconsciously are aware of: that the men in their lives are expecting them to vote a certain way and to think a certain way. I know it sounds very 1950s, the whole good little wife waiting on her husband hand and foot, but it still echoes in our culture and has its roots deep in western culture prioritizing men’s beliefs and thoughts over that of women. Every white woman has a spectre of a white man hovering over her shoulder. That’s why we are taught to be peacemakers and to worry about making everyone happy. Even I fall into this trap, but as I said before, voting to oppress other people isn’t going to get rid of your own oppression. It isn’t going to lessen it. It only makes you an accomplice in the oppression. 

None of the above absolves you. It doesn’t absolve me. Just because I understand the system of oppression involved in being a woman in this country doesn’t make it okay that so many of us voted for someone who is so blatantly racist and angry. He is encouraging other people to act out. You may say, “I don’t agree with everything he does.” I understand that, but ultimately you voted for someone who is okay with that. By doing so, you sent a message to everyone that even if you don’t consider yourself a racist or a bigot, you will stand silently by while someone else is. 

And liberal white women, this message is for you, too, so don’t sit back and pat yourself on the back for voting for Clinton. There is a history within the suffrage movement and within feminism of white, supposedly liberal women always putting themselves first. We need stop doing that. We need to be better. We need to fight for every last single woman. We need to stop letting down every last person of color in this country. We need to stop being ableist and transphobic. We either stand for all women or none at all. Too many of us quietly went to the polls and voted for Clinton and never once said a thing to convince other people to not vote for Trump. And way, way, way too many of us are now telling marginalized people to make peace with the people who voted for Trump. Stop it. You are speaking from a position of privilege again. They are entitled to their fear and anger and no, they shouldn’t have to hug and place nice with people who told them that they are less than human through their voting. If you are really liberal, you need to act like it and you need to be ready to hear what marginalized women have to say and not get upset when they tell you you are wrong. 

This is a reminder for myself that I need to be better. Always. And a reminder that we as a group, every last white woman, regardless of how you voted, have a lot of work to do. We benefit from our whiteness, even if we don’t benefit from being women. Stop the thought pattern that says, “We are okay because he doesn’t mean us. He means those other women.” Those other women need your protection and support, because no one else is giving it. 

Huddle break over. Go prove that you are better than this. 

TODAY (28.11.2016) MARKS THE 98th YEAR OF WOMEN’S VOTE IN POLAND!

■ On 28 November 1918, Polish Chief of State Józef Piłsudski signed an electoral law allowing women to vote, which they did for the first time in parliamentary elections in January 1919.

■ The electoral law also allowed Polish women to hold public office.

■ Polish women gained the right to vote sooner than their counterparts in the US, Turkey, United Kingdom and France.

When the movie Suffragette came out in October, critics noticed something off: The film’s struggling women were all white. In fact, one of the most important women in the suffragette movement was an Indian princess, Sophia Duleep Singh. But she didn’t make an appearance in the movie.

“Suddenly there was this sort of tidal wave of outrage from people who were saying, why wasn’t she in the movie?” says Anita Anand, author of the book Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary. “So my first response was, why are you so angry? You hadn’t heard about her until fairly recently.”

Anand herself knew nothing about Sophia until she saw an interesting face in an old magazine photo. “It was black and white, but something about it just told me that this woman was as brown as I was,” she says. “She had the same sort of features as one of my aunties, and I just thought, you know, I’ve been a political journalist for 20 years; how is it that I don’t know about an Indian suffragette?”

Here’s how the suffragette princess disappeared from history.

With ‘Sophia,’ A Forgotten Suffragette Is Back In The Headlines

Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Henrietta Augusta Dugdale

An unapologetic ‘radical’ feminist, a founder of Australia’s first female suffragist society, and a character of biting wit and lots of salt. 

I know her by the quote:

“…the greatest obstacle to human advancement, the most irrational, fiercest and most powerful of our world’s monsters—the only devil—MALE IGNORANCE.”

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July 15th 1858: Emmeline Pankhurst born

On this day in 1858, English suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was born in Manchester. Born as Emmeline Goulden, her family had a tradition of radical politics, as did her husband Richard Pankhurst. In 1889, she founded the Women’s Franchise League, and in 1903 the Women’s Social and Political Union. The latter was far more militant in its demands for female suffrage, resorting to criminal activities like vandalism and arson. The suffragettes were known for their hunger strikes in prison, which resulted in violent force-feeding; Pankhurst herself was subjected to this while in prison on hunger strike. The actions of suffragettes appeared hysterical and fanatical to contemporary observers - especially Emily Wilding Davison’s death upon jumping in front of a horse at the 1913 Derby - and did not lead to female suffrage. Their tactics were more extreme when compared to the moderate suffragists led by Millicent Fawcett, and even divided Pankhurst’s daughters, causing a rift in the family. Upon the outbreak of the First World War, Pankhurst and the suffragettes actively supported the war effort in factories and encouraging enlistment, which resulted in enfranchisement of women over thirty in 1918. This was not on par with men, and Pankhurst continued the struggle for the female voting age to be reduced to 21. Pankhurst, who had devoted her life to the cause of female equality, died soon before this was achieved in 1928.

“The condition of our sex is so deplorable that it is our duty to break the law in order to call attention to the reasons why we do”

“The Most Dangerous Sorceress in the Empire”,Clara Zetkin, circa 1910.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and here is why.

In 1910 German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed to the Second International that March 8th be proclaimed International Women’s Day, to commemorate demonstrations held by Women Garment Workers in New York CIty on March 8, 1857, and again on the 51st anniversary, March 8, 1908 Zetkin, a renowned revolutionary theoretician, argued with Lenin on women’s rights, and was considered a grave threat to the European governments of the time. Title quote by Kaiser Wilhelm I.