Politics and Government

Women and the Political Process

What was the impact of the Nineteenth Amendment on black women and politics?

By 1918 support for women’s suffrage was broad. That year Congress proposed a constitutional amendment stating that the vote should not be denied or abridged for any U.S. citizen because of his or her gender. The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, granted women the right to vote. African-American women had long sought rights equal to men and to whites, and worked in a number of arenas to encourage black women to vote. The amendment would at least bring about a new freedom for them. Some joined the white organization, the League of Women Voters, and others formed their own black leagues. In the South, black women hung on to the Republican Party, while the Democrats now held sway among whites. Four decades would pass before Southern blacks overcame threats of violence and loss of economic opportunity if they voted.

Black women in other areas of the country fared better politically. For example, Seattle, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey elected black women to their school boards. Women were also involved in the Republican conventions and garnered support of black men who ran for political office. Urban centers like New York, Chicago, and Detroit took notice of the power of black women, especially their block vote.


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