Black women at the Inaugural March, part I


Black women at the Inaugural March, part I


As 1913 began, planning was underway for a massive suffrage march and pageant to take place in Washington, DC on March 3, the day before #WoodrowWilson’s inauguration.

Black women wrote the organizers to ask if they were welcome. If you have to ask . . . 🧵

Nellie Quander wrote Alice Paul on Feb 17, oozing politeness. “Fearing that a letter which I sent you has gone astray…” she begins, and then restates her question: Will the @HowardU AKA women march in the collegiate section? Or will they be segregated at the back of the march?

Alice Paul, the lead organizer, had for weeks been ducking this and other questions about African American women’s participation. Throughout January she wrote Alice Stone Blackwell, editor of the largest suffrage publication, trying to keep the issue out of the paper.

They didn’t succeed. Adella Hunt Logan, an African American suffragist who taught at @TuskegeeUniv in Alabama, noticed an item in the Woman’s Journal saying white women wouldn’t march if Black women participated. She tipped off Mary Church Terrell.

Terrell was in DC, and able to rally local Black suffragists. Among them were the Alpha Kappa Alpha women. Nellie Quander was eager to get an assurance from the march organizers b/c a group of her members was threatening to break off & create a more politically engaged sorority.

They did -- creating Delta Sigma Theta @dstinc1913 See illustration of the founders👇🏾The Deltas’ first public action was to march in the suffrage parade. Mary Church Terrell marched with them. Ironically, in the end the @akasorority1908 didn’t march as a group.

All the white northern women organizing the march insisted to one another that while THEY weren’t racist, they feared an integrated march would hurt the cause. Their letters make clear they all wished Black women wouldn’t show up.

Tomorrow: Ida B Wells arrives from Chicago.


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “Black women at the Inaugural March, part I,” Daily Suffragist, accessed December 4, 2023,

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