Alpha Suffrage Club arrives in Washington


Alpha Suffrage Club arrives in Washington


Black women at the Inaugural March, part II

A large Illinois delegation--some accounts say 62 people, others 65--came to Washington for the 1913 inauguration suffrage march. #IdaBWells was the only African American in the group. She represented the new Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago. Thread.

Two months before, Ida had co-founded Alpha with two white women, Virginia Brooks & Belle Squires. It differed from the Women’s Second Ward Republican Club, which Ida organized in 1910. The Republicans' star was dimming, and being tied to the party was no longer an asset.

Alpha was non-partisan, city-wide, and suffrage-focused. Some Black women were skeptical about about the movement, given discrimination by white suffragists and a fear that suffrage➡️more votes for white supremacy. But Ida was determined to engage Black women to win the fight.

Alpha Suffrage Club’s first order of business was to send the women to Washington for the march. When they all arrived, the Illinois delegation went to parade headquarters. A Chicago Tribune reporter accompanied the group for the whole trip and reported on what transpired.

Grace Trout, leader of the Illinois delegation, burst into the room and announced that Ida couldn’t march with them. She said it wasn’t up to her, it was the decision of NAWSA, Alice Paul, and Alice Stone Blackwell. She claimed they had no choice.

A Georgia-born woman from Oak Park agreed: “You are right, it will prejudice southern people against suffrage if we take colored women into our ranks.” Ida was standing right there, and had been a prominent Illinois suffragist longer than most of the women in the room.

Absolutely not, said Ida's colleague Virginia Brooks. “We have come down here to march for equal rights. If the women of other states lack moral courage...we are not afraid of public opinion. If the women didn't stand by their principles, the parade will be a farce.”

Ida's voice trembled as she spoke about the harm to the cause, not the personal insult. “If the Illinois women do not take a stand now in this great democratic parade then the colored women are lost.”

Grace Trout said she’d try, then left to negotiate. Returning, she said that if it were up to her, Ida would march with them, but NAWSA said no.

Do you think IdaBWells accepted this? Have you met her?

Tune in tomorrow . . .


Daily Suffragist






Daily Suffragist, “Alpha Suffrage Club arrives in Washington,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 24, 2024,

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