Black women & white women experiencing this country differently is nothing new.

In the suffrage movement, what voting meant for white women was different than what it meant for Black women. And not just because the fight was segregated, running on parallel tracks. 🧵

White suffragists were fighting patriarchy and misogyny that limited their personal, individual progress. Compared to their brothers, fathers, husbands, and sons, they had no rights and could barely contribute to public life.

Black women were fighting a much larger fight.

Regardless of sex, African-Americans were wholly excluded from American society. Save a scant decade, Black people in the South were effectively re-enslaved by violent white supremacy:
- debt peonage (sharecropping)
- lynching
- convict leasing
- disenfranchisement and...

As African-Americans began migrating North they faced race riots, segregated schools, and total residential and professional segregation, which persist to this day.

Then and now, for Black women, the stakes were higher.

Each white woman needed the vote for herself: for her own full citizenship, access to education, to control her own body, to make a living.

Each Black woman needed the vote for all of those reasons AND because her entire community was literally under constant, violent attack.

Put simply, white women were fighting for rights their brothers had but they did not.

Black women were fighting for rights denied to everyone in their family - their brothers, fathers, husbands, and sons mostly couldn’t vote either.

In addition to the contemporary readings on racism & white privilege, for suffrage buffs I also recommend Deborah Gray White’s Too Heavy a Load; Paula Giddings’ Where and When I Enter; @ProfessorCrunk Beyond Respectability; and of course can't wait for @MarthaSJones_' Vanguard.//

@VSapiro They weren't, and that's part of my point. The obstacles facing Jewish, Italian, Irish and other women who came to be seen as white were real. But the obstacles Black women faced were another order of magnitude. White people must acknowledge this w/out always saying "yes, but..."

@VSapiro Totally agree, and I've devoted many posts to labor union suffragists. 


Daily Suffragist





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Daily Suffragist, “Doldrums/Nadir,” Daily Suffragist, accessed December 4, 2023,

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