LETTER TO TEACHERS
As we look forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States in 2020, we are writing to suggest an opportunity for you and your students As members of the local League of Women Voters we have been especially interested to learn about the many African American women who were active leaders in the fight for women’s suffrage. Unfortunately, when many people think about this struggle, they mention Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt, but the African American women whose efforts contributed to the eventual success of the effort, have not always been acknowledged as they should be. Although Sojourner Truth is quite well known, we have also learned about Harriet Forten Purvis, Angelina Weld Grimke, Charlotte Rollin, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Ida B. Wells, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Josephine Pierre Ruffin, Sarah Askin of Florence, and others.
These women and others advocated tirelessly for over 100 years until the 19th Amendment was finally ratified in 1920. We know that voting rights were a central focus of the Civil Rights Movement and continue to be a concern today. We anticipate that it will be of special interest to young people to discover the history of these suffragists. We understand that the fight for equal access to voting rights remains an evolving story, and that we all need to continue to work together to ensure the right and equal access of all citizens to participate fully in our democracy through voting.
We can imagine that, during the upcoming 100th anniversary year, this could be an exciting research topic for your students. As a way to showcase their learning, students might write plays, narratives or poems or create art or multi-media projects describing the efforts of these leaders. Such possibilities are a good match for curriculum standards in English Language Arts and Social Studies including the new Massachusetts requirement for civics education. Members of our local League of Women Voters are ready to help in any way we can. For instance we are collecting relevant historical information that we would be pleased to share with you and your students. We are consulting our own historical archives that are held at Smith College, as well as resources at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the David Ruggles Center in Florence and websites like https://suffragistmemorial.org/african-american-women-leaders-in-the-suffrage-movement/
Thanks for considering this possibility. If you’re interested, please let us know how we can help.
League of Women Voters: Empowering Voters – Defending Democracy