Suffrage colors explained


Suffrage colors explained


In writing about what it means to “look like a mom,” @VVFriedman reported that the yellow t-shirts Portland moms wear are intended to evoke sunshine, joy, warmth. The protesters even carry sunflowers to reinforce - which connects them directly to suffrage's color palette.🎨🧵

Sunflower yellow was the only good thing to come out of the 1867 referendum in Kansas. Local suffragists made cloth ribbons in the color of the state flower >> yellow caught on as “the distinguishing badge of the woman suffrage army.” It eventually became NAWSA’s official color.

In the UK, the Pankhursts’ WSPU sought to distinguish themselves from other suffrage groups. Purple represented “the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity;” white for purity; green for hope & “the emblem of spring.”

Harriot Stanton Blatch honored the Pankhursts by using their colors for her Women’s Political Union. In New York suffrage marches 1910-1917, women wore sashes in a variety of colors reflecting different groups, usually over a white dress -- for effect, and virginal femininity.

Alice Paul & Lucy Burns formally adopted purple/yellow/white as their group’s colors shortly after the 1913 Washington march. They were still a NAWSA committee then, not yet the National Woman’s Party - and their colors merge NAWSA’s yellow with the Pankhursts’ white & purple.

Or do they? They explain their choice in one of the first issues of the Suffragist newspaper. White for purity, purple for loyalty and steadfastness (not royalty), and “gold, the color of light and life, is as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving.”

No reference to sunflower yellow or honoring their connection to NAWSA. But they do invoke the life-giving sunshine that inspired suffragists all the way back in Kansas in 1867 - and inspires the white moms in Portland today. #Suffrage100 #19thAmendment


Daily Suffragist






Daily Suffragist, “Suffrage colors explained,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 27, 2022,

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