Written By Zoe Kasta
To mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, The Boho Icons is a two-part series shining a bright light on the impactful stories of the Black movers and shakers of history, and today.
Despite what you may have learned in school, the celebratory day that comprehended the rights for women to vote was not all fair. On the day of the Amendment, Black people were still facing major challenges for just attempting to vote, including extreme violence.
From traveling tirelessly from state to sate, demanding anti-lynching, and courageously speaking up in mass crowds, Black Suffrage Leaders endlessly put themselves in the line of fire to call out oppression in the face of hostility.
We are honoring the phenomenal Black women of our history who fought with the collective power of voices, passion, and dignity to liberate the Black community and speak our truth. All hail the Queens!
1. FRANCES ELLIS WATKINS HARPER
Multitalented Frances Harper was a poet, public speaker, writer, and teacher who devoted her life’s work to The Anti-Slavery Society. As an orphan to equally activist parents, she continued their fight with powerful moves. 100 years before Rosa Parks, she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, voiced the famous moving speech ‘We Are All Bound Up Together’, and founded several powerful campaign groups – all in a day’s work.
2. IDA B. WELLS
Ida B. Wells was an iconic force in women’s rights who founded integral groups for Black equality, including the NAACP. Despite attempts to silence her, she continued to rise and raise awareness of the lynching and human rights violations against Black people. Her legacy is one of a true warrior!
3. ELLA BAKER
A leading force in African-American Civil Rights, Baker became a leader in some of the most influential organizations of the time and worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. She shaped feminism, and outspokenly confronted sexism, racism and oppression of marginalized groups. Her efforts at dismantling injustice gave Black people the confidence and power to demand a seat at the table.
4. SOJOURNER TRUTH
At 29 years old, Sojourner Truth escaped slavery with her young daughter. She became the first Black woman to win a court case to reclaim her son from a slave owner. An incredible woman with a mission, Truth was at the forefront of abolitionism and women’s right activism. Her renowned speech called ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ put pressure on the status quo, while she continued endless acts of brave heroism that is felt to this day.
5. SARAH PARKER REDMOND
Sarah Parker Redmond powerfully protested against the atrocities of slavery, segregation, and women’s rights. Redmond traveled extensively to be heard and committed herself to the hopes of freedom. Despite being physically assaulted for refusing to sit in a segregated area in a theatre, she rightfully sued and won. A force to be reckoned with, Redmond is an inspiration to us all.
These legendary stories are just a tip of the iceberg of how many Black women fought for a fairer society. A sisterhood we could only dream of becoming, let’s continue to celebrate our extraordinary ancestors who paved the way for radical change.