The19th Amendment And Women’s Suffrage Leaders Excluded Black Women

The passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution on Aug 18, 1920, marked a monumental milestone in American history. It granted women the right to vote, a fundamental democratic right that had been denied to them for centuries. However, racist policies often kept Black women out of the suffragist movement led by white women.

Did the 19th Amendment enable all women the right to vote?

On paper, the Amendment protected discrimination against all women, but in practice, it only gave white women the right to vote. Black women, Native American women, Asian American women, and women from other racial and ethnic minority groups were discriminated against for 45 more years until the passage of The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The VRA afforded crucial protections to Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC) voters. And, women with disabilities only gained protections in 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act. – Rock The Vote

The National Association of Colored Women‘s Clubs Inc. was established in 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women. The organization functioned as an umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations. 


  • The women’s suffrage movement had been gaining momentum for decades, with suffragists tirelessly campaigning for equal voting rights.
  • Notable figures such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul played pivotal roles in organizing and leading the movement.

Legislative Process:

  • The 19th Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878, but it took years of lobbying and advocacy before it gained significant support.
  • The amendment was passed by the House of Representatives in 1918 and by the Senate in 1919, fulfilling the two-thirds majority requirement.
  • On Aug 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified by the required number of states, becoming part of the Constitution.


  • The 19th Amendment had a profound impact on American society, empowering in practice only white women to participate in the democratic process and contribute to shaping the nation’s future.
  • It marked a significant victory for the women’s rights movement, (in spite of its racist implementation and practice) and paved the way for further advancements in gender equality.


  • The 19th Amendment stands as a testament to the resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment of women who fought for their right to be heard and to have a say in their own governance.
  • It continues to inspire generations of women and advocates of social justice worldwide.

Excerpts from African & Black History:

Sojourner Truth wasn’t just a voice for abolition, she was a powerful advocate for women’s rights as well. Her iconic “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech directly confronted the exclusion of Black women from suffrage, highlighting the hypocrisy of arguments used to deny them the vote. By connecting the struggles of enslaved people and women, Truth saw both groups as deserving of equal rights, including voting rights. Her courage and activism inspired other women and broadened the suffrage movement, raising awareness and demanding equality for all women.

Harriet Tubman was a staunch supporter of women’s suffrage, giving speeches about her experiences as an enslaved woman at various anti-slavery conventions, out of which the voting rights movement emerged.

Ida B. Wells was one of our nation’s foremost critics of racial injustice through her journalistic and philanthropic endeavors. She co-founded the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago in 1913 to educate Black women on how to cultivate Black candidates and ensure their votes. She also marched in the 1913 women’s parade in Washington, D.C., which would come to be regarded as a milestone in the history of the 19th Amendment.

Daisy Lampkin was instrumental for women’s voting rights. She was president of Negro Women’s Franchise League in 1915 and an active organizer with NAACP & National Association of Colored Women. She promoted interest in suffrage among Black women in Pittsburgh.

Mary Church Terrell was a pioneering figure in the fight for racial equality and women’s suffrage. She was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree, earning both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Her life’s work focused on the idea of racial uplift.

Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper was one of North Carolina’s early, outspoken Black woman suffragists. She advocated for civil rights for Black Americans, and her 1892 book, “A Voice from the South: By a Black Woman of the South,” is considered the first Black feminist publication. Dr. Cooper made contributions to social science fields, particularly in sociology. She is sometimes called “The Mother Of Black Feminism.”

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