Politics and Government

Women and the Political Process

What role did the African-American women’s club movement play in shaping politics?

After its founding in 1896, the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) soon began to agitate for the rights of black women. Among the leaders were Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954), educator, orator, writer, and civil and women’s rights activist, who was also president of the organization. The Memphis native, who relocated to Washington, D.C., became known for her social activism on behalf of blacks and women in the United States and foreign countries. When the National American Suffrage Association met in 1898, Terrell spoke before the organization on behalf of women’s right to vote. Joining Terrell in her women’s activism were NACW presidents Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary McLeod Bethune. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931) was a crusader against lynching and founder of the first suffrage organization for black women. Bethune (1875–1955), educator, activist, and later advisor to four U. S. presidents, worked tirelessly to empower African-American women and sought civil rights for men and women of her race.


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