Despite the tremendous risk, African American women marched for suffrage, too
So, despite the fact that the right to vote was no less important to black women than it was to black men and white women, African American women were told to march at the back of the parade with a black procession.
Despite all of this, the 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority marched. It was the only African American women’s organization to participate.
The group was founded on Jan. 13, 1913, at Howard University, and its contribution to the Washington’s Women’s Suffrage Parade was the founders’ first public act.
Mary Church Terrell was an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority who marched with the women under their banner. The daughter of former slaves, Terrell was one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women.
While fighting against lynching and Jim Crow laws, Terrell advocated women’s suffrage. She spoke with authority because she represented “the only group in this country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount …both sex and race.”
Ida B. Wells-Barnett, another member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, marched. A journalist, outspoken suffragist and anti-lynching crusader, she founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, the first African American women’s suffrage organization. Her members joined her in marching for women’s suffrage at the 1913 parade in Washington.
When the Illinois procession instructed Wells-Barnett of the edict that she march with an all-black delegation, she “refused to take part unless ‘I can march under the Illinois banner.’ ”
And so she did, walking between two white supporters in the Illinois delegation.