For the 4th year in a row, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Voting Rights Alliance, in honor of Black History Month, are publishing a daily special series devoted to sharing the legacies and stories of the sheroes, heroes, and events in the fight for Black suffrage. This series incorporates social media posts, daily newsletters, and website blog posts to spread the word broadly.
In addition to 11 NEW articles this year, the series is starting off its first 7 days with stories of Black women involved in the Women’s Suffrage Movement in honor of the 100th Year Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, even though many African American women were not able to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We encourage everyone to share this series to your networks and on social media under the hashtag #VRABlackHistory. You can also tweet us @VRAmatters to share your own facts.
Today we honor Prince Hall of Boston, who was not only a registered voter of his day, but a staunch abolitionist and civil rights activist who used the power of petitions to effectively petition the government to gain rights for Blacks. This article exemplified the complexities of the fight for Black suffrage during a colonial era built on the immoral institution of slavery.
Today we honor Paul Cuffe Sr, who, by way of petitions, civil disobedience, and working within the system, helped pave the way for Black (and Native American) men in Massachusetts to be able to vote.
Today, February 3rd, 2022, we honor Sojourner Truth, who was not only “one of the first African American women to win a lawsuit in the United States”, but was also a powerful advocate of the suffrage movement for Black and all women.
Today, February 4th, we honor Frederick Douglass. What would a series dedicated to those who advanced Black suffrage be without mention of Frederick Douglass, the man who advocated for suffrage for ALL African-Americans, regardless of gender?
February 5th, 2022 – Robert Purvis (1810 – 1898) & Harriet Forten-Purvis (1810 – 1875) #VRABlackHistory
Today we honor Robert Purvis, a Black man who lost his voting rights in the early 1800’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On March 14, 1838, Purvis submitted a petition to fight for his and 40,000 other Black Philadelphians’ voting rights in response to a new state constitutional amendment that restricted suffrage to only White men.
Today we honor Mary Ann Shadd Cary. “Mary Ann Shadd Cary, African American teacher, journalist, lawyer, and suffragist, was the oldest of thirteen children of prominent free Black parents. She edited a Canadian newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, for Black refugees who fled to Canada. She advocated the vote for Black women as race advancement, affiliated with the National Woman Suffrage Association, and developed legal arguments for suffrage under the 14th Amendment. Cary founded the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association in D.C. (1880), which pre-dated the woman’s club movement by a decade, and linked the vote to women’s labor questions and entrepreneurship – all ideas far ahead of their time.
Today we honor the Black soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, the outcome of which lead to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
Today, February 8th, 2022, we honor the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlaws discrimination in voting rights on the basis of race, color, and previous condition of servitude; thereby advancing suffrage for African Americans (although only men could vote at that time).
Today, February 9th, 2022, we honor the Reconstruction Congress of 1867, which passed several measures to promote Black enfranchisement.
“Following the end of the Civil War, the United States Congress forged a plan to reconstruct the war-torn country. Three dynamic measures were passed in 1867.”
Today, February 10th, 2022, we remember the fight for the Federal Elections Bill (also known as “The Lodge Bill, or to its opponents “The Force Bill”). The Lodge Bill would have given more oversight in elections and provided much-needed enforcement of the 15th Amendment in the South. Following the 1877 Hayes-Tilden compromise, this bill represented the last attempt by the U.S. Congress in the 19th Century to protect African-American suffrage.
Today, February 11th, 2022, we honor George H. White, who was a lawyer and a Republican African-American Congressman from North Carolina’s Second Congressional District (1899-1901). As we travel through history, I have been purposefully laying the groundwork all week for one of our nine new articles: the Black massacres of the 1860’s- 1880’s, many of which were over voting. While many more massacres occurred after 1880’s, the extreme concentration of Black massacres during this time period were specifically targeted against Black men exerting their right to vote under 15th amendment. Despite the horror that article will show, I purposefully have inserted this article before it to provide a contrast: that even when everything seems hopeless, progress still finds a way to rise as a phoenix.
February 12th, 2022 – The First National Conference of the Colored Women of America (August 1895) #VRABlackHistory
Today, February 12th, 2022, we honor the First National Conference of the Colored Women of America. Yesterday, we focused on George H, White, the unsung hero who was the last of the Reconstruction Era Black Congressmen. He detailed brutal racial voter suppression that destroyed the Black vote. It would be another 91 years before another Black North Carolina Congressperson. As I teased yesterday, one of the new articles, set to premiere this weekend, will take a look at the Black massacres that occurred after the 1860’s, many of which were over voting. While many more massacres occurred after 1880’s, the extreme concentration of Black massacres during this time period were specifically targeted against Black men exerting their right to vote under 15th amendment. Despite the horror that article will show, I purposefully have inserted this article. just as yesterday’s, to honor the wins of Black men and women during this time.
Today we honor Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who was a journalist, civil rights activist, and suffragist who endlessly fought against racial and sexual discrimination.
“Born a slave in 1862, Ida Bell Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union, about six months after Ida’s birth, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Today, February 14th, 2022, we want to show why we love and honor Mary Eliza Church Terrell. On September 23, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee, this pioneering woman was born. She was born the same year the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and she died two months after the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
Today, February 15th, we honor Anna Julia Cooper, who “was an American educator, writer, and scholar remembered for her pioneering crusade for the upliftment of African-American women.”
Today, February 16th, 2022, we honor Mary McLeod Bethune, who was “[o]ne of the 20th century’s most powerful and celebrated advocates for civil rights and suffrage” (Bennet, C. 2019).
Today, February 17th, 2022 we honor Maggie Lena Walker. Maggie organized pre-registration meetings in in 1920 in Richmond, Virginia after the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Today we honor Ella Baker, one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Baker was a field secretary and directory of branches for the N.A.A.C.P. in the 1940s.
Today, February 20th, 2022, we honor Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson, who “was a civil rights pioneer who championed voting rights for African Americans.” “Born when slavery and the Civil War were still in living memory, Mrs. Boynton Robinson became a voting rights activist in the 1930s and was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. She lived long enough to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address in January  and to accompany the president across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March,  commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma march that almost claimed her life.”
February 21st, 2022 – A Legacy of Disenfranchisement: Black Massacres (1860’s – early 1900’s) #VRABlackHistory, 2022 new article
Today, February 21st, 2022, we remember the Black massacres that occurred between the 1860’s and early 1900’s. While many more massacres occurred after and before this, the extreme concentration of Black massacres during this time period were specifically targeted against Black men exerting their right to vote under 15th amendment. In this article, I revisit the time periods already covered all month long, and reveal this brutal hidden history.
Today, February 22nd, 2022, we honor Fannie Lou Hamer, a seminal figure in the fight for African American voting rights and political power in the 1960’s. Hamer “was a civil rights activist whose passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African-Americans throughout the South.”
Today, February 23rd, 2022, we honor the Children’s Crusade. which was the successful effort to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama.
Led by thousands of children, underneath the leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and its leaders, Martin Luther King Jr, Rev. James Bevel, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Dorothy Cotton, this movement to protest racial violence and segregation galvanized the Civil Rights Movement.
February 24th, 2022- The Rise of Modern Voter Suppression: Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 2 (2013). #VRABlackHistory
Today, February 24th, 2022, we are educating about the rise of modern voter suppression. Our focus will be on the United State’s Supreme Court’s 2013 decision of Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 2 (2013), which ruled Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) unconstitutional. As is outlined below, the Court ruling Section 4(b) of the VRA, which set the coverage formula for Section 5 of the VRA (the preclearance section), unconstitutional effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA.
February 25th, 2022- Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020) 2022 Edition: The “Good Trouble” Spirit of John Lewis Marches On #VRABlackHistory
February 25th, 2022, we honored Congressman John Lewis, who fought for equality and voting rights his entire life. Congressman John Lewis put his heart, soul, skin, blood, and tears into the fight for African-American suffrage. Congressman John Lewis was “ a leading participant in nearly all of the pivotal events of the civil rights movement”. Congressman Lewis:
February 26th, 2022- Voting Triumphs and Struggles and Racial Violence during The 1918 Flu Epidemic and Red Summer #VRABlackHistory, NEW 2022 Article
February 26th, 2022, we remember the 1918 flu, and the struggles and triumphs of suffragists as well as the massacres of Black voters during that time.
February 27th, 2022- Ahmaud Arbery (1994-2020) and the Brunswick, Georgia community who voted out their shameful District Attorney (2020-2022) #VRABlackHistory, NEW 2022 Article
February 27th, 2022, we honored Ahmaud Arbery and remember how his tragic passing led to the Brunswick, Georgia community, whom we also honor in this article, coming together to vote out their Judicial Circuit District Attorney (DA), Jackie Johnson, who had been shamefully failing to provide equal justice for years.
February 28th, 2022- The Transformative Justice Coalition’s (2015-present) 2022 Voting Rights Agenda & What YOU can do to advance voting rights #VRABlackHistory, 2022 Edition
For the last day of Black History Month 2022, we are honoring the Transformative Justice Coalition’s 2022 Voting Rights Agenda & Educating on what YOU can do to advance voting rights.
TJC and the Voting Rights Alliance have sounded the alarm this Black History Month. These organizations have rung the bell to alert you- the reader- about your ancestors’ struggles for African-American suffrage and about the present struggles in the fight for African-American suffrage. Education of Black History is essential in the fight. In fact, Black history and their fight for the vote provides a modern-day playbook for how you can be involved.