Yesterday, August 18, 2020, marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification, which is known for granting American women the right to vote.. but this isn't accurate. While certainly a large jump in the direction of gender equality, this amendment only granted white women the right to vote. ALL were not included until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Then, and now, there’s work to be done.
I am constantly inspired by "Badass Ladies" in my work, and I strive to highlight all, regardless of how mainstream they may or may not be. I believe the key to change is unlearning and learning, and I pour a tremendous amount of energy into researching prior to painting. My 2020 goal is to do better at taking what I have learned (and unlearned) and sharing this with my customers, and I'll start here.
In this project I wanted to nod to this milestone, commemorate, and encourage people, especially women, to get out there and vote. In her CNN article yesterday, Treva Lindsey said, "This centennial is a momentous occasion to honor the tremendous political labor of tens of thousands of women who made the 19th Amendment possible. And yet, "commemorate" is the word I choose to use, because we cannot "celebrate" the ways in which the broader movement often attempted to relegate the voices and experiences of women of color to the background. Some White women even fought for a version of woman suffrage that excluded African American, Asian American and Native American women. Universal suffrage for adults was neither the intention or the end goal for these White suffragists." It is intentional that you will not find many of the women who we all learned about it grade school in this collection.
Under a slogan of Votes for Women, much progress was made, but in "herstory" there is still so much work to be done. I'm excited to highlight six amazing, badass ladies who moved mountains during their time for the rights of ALL women, and I present their portraits in pin form under the slogan Vote for Women. As we approach November, I realize how many people think their vote doesn't matter and choose not to vote. I urge you to register, to research, to use your voice. There's a reason you can.
Ida B. Wells: Perhaps one of the bravest Americans to ever live, Ida B. Wells was an abolitionist, anti-lynching advocate, civil rights activist, and feminist. She was uncompromising in her belief that progress requires direct action and, through her work as an investigative journalist, political organizer, and public
speaker championed the right of Black Americans, Black women in particular, to live free, safe, and included lives in this country. Including her support of all women’s suffrage, she was a co-founder of the NAACP, owned and operated her own newspaper until a mob destroyed it, and was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for her groundbreaking writings on Lynching.
My favorite quote: “There must always be a remedy for wrong and injustice if we only know how to find it.”
Matilda Joslyn Gage: Sometimes considered the “forgotten suffragist,” Matilda Joslyn Gage was a co-founder, with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of the National Women Suffrage Association and co-author, with Anthony, of the “Women’s Declaration of Rights.” She is often overlooked by history, however, because of her refusal to follow the NWSA’s move to block Black women from the vote and her critiques of the Christian church’s support of male supremacy. Other fun facts: she protected escaping slaves in her home on the underground railroad, was a fierce defender of
the rights of Indigenous people’s and made an honorary member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk
Nation, and was hailed by Gloria Steinem as “the woman who was ahead of the women who were
ahead of their time.”
My favorite quote: “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven; that word is Liberty.”
Anna Julia Cooper: One of the most prominent Black scholars in U.S. history, slave born Anna Julia Cooper was an author, educator, and activist. At an early age, her love of learning started her educational journey that would continue for the remainder of her life, with accolades that include being one of the 1st Black women to graduate from Oberlin College, the 4th woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D., and the 1st ever woman to earn this level of degree from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. She assisted in the creation of clubs dedicated to the Black community, with specific focus on women, youth, and the poor. She described her calling as “the education of neglected people," believing learning was the gateway to liberation. Another fun fact: She is the only Black woman whose words are quoted in the United States passport.
My favorite quote: I constantly felt (as I suppose many an ambitious girl has felt) a thumping from within unanswered by any beckoning from without.
Mary Church Terrell: A true champion of both gender and racial equality, Mary Church Terrell was an advocate, feminist, author, educator, and civil rights activist. She was the co-founder and inaugural president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), and believed in the crucial importance of "lifting as we climb". She often rubbed shoulders with Ida B. Wells and other notable activists while she fought against the convict lease system, lynching, and Jim Crow Laws. She picketed at the White House in support of the 19th Amendment because she believed that black women had two hurdles to jump, both gender and race. After winning an anti-discrimination lawsuit, she became the first Black member of the American Association of University Women, and was also the first Black woman appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education.
My favorite quote: “I cannot help wondering sometimes what I might have become and might have done if I had lived in a country which had not circumscribed and handicapped me on account of my race, that had allowed me to reach any height I was able to attain.”
Sojourner Truth: A giant of her time (quite literally, at six feet tall), Sojourner Truth escaped slavery at the age of thirty and would spend the next fifty-six years as a forceful way-shower in the causes of abolition, women’s rights, and racial equality. She used every tool at her disposal, including speeches, songs, sit-ins, fundraisers, the judicial system, and (attempted) voting to shed light on the litany of injustices she other Black women faced even within the prevailing justice movements, including women’s suffrage. During the Civil War, she organized and distributed supplies for Black troops and, after, became an advocate for these same troops as well as freed slaves at the national level, helping them find jobs and housing and campaigning for reparations in the form of land grants. She is credited with directly challenging racists at the Women’s Rights Convention in her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, and leveraged this demand for suffrage and rights for every women against such male luminaries as Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and William Lloyd Garrison.
My favorite quote: "I will not allow my life's light to be determined by the darkness around me."
Lucretia Mott: A fierce abolitionist, feminist, Quaker, and social reformer, Lucretia Mott dedicated her life to speaking out against racial and gender injustice. She was well known for maintaining poise despite hostile audiences, and was not deterred by attempts to keep her from a room because of her gender. She was an active member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, was the 1st president of the American Equal Rights Association, and hosted the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in Philadelphia. Though she died before the 19th Amendment was passed, she was instrumental in the early stages on the women's suffrage movement, and dedicated the last years of her life to the cause. Other fun facts: her home was part of the Underground Railroad, her abolitionist views were so progressive that the Society of Friends attempted to strip her of her membership, and she is one of the founders of Swarthmore College.
My favorite quote: “Any great change must expect opposition, because it shakes the very foundation of privilege.”
To shop the pin collection, click here.