Home Suffragists in Washington, D.C.

Suffragists in Washington, D.C.

Abby Scott Baker, Washington: NWP executive committee member, political chair, “Prison Special” speaker, and lobbyist.

Kate Boeckh, Washington: Picketed White House in 1917 and appealed charges. Also in 1919, jailed for three days for applauding in court. Native of Canada.

Josephine Bruce (1853-1923), Washington:  Bruce was a political activist and the wife of Republican Blanche K. Bruce, the first United States Senator from Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era. Senator Bruce supported the enfranchisement of women while serving as Senator. Josephine Bruce was a charter member of the Colored Woman’s League of D.C. and helped organize the National Organization of Afro-American Women in 1894, a forerunner of the National Association of Colored Women.  She published articles in the Crisis magazine and in voice of the Negro.  She was also editor of the magazine for the NAACP.  Later she became Dean of Women at Tuskegee.

Nannie Helen Burroughs, Washington: Promoted equal suffrage through the Baptist church’s new Women’s Convention, representing over 50,000 women by 1912.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893), Washington:  A veteran suffragist, Cary worked as a journalist, teacher, lawyer, and politician.  She was perhaps the first African American suffragist to form a suffrage association. She spoke at the 1878 convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Cary connected education, women’s labor questions, and economic and business development to political empowerment. In 1880, she organized the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association in D.C.

Agnes Chase, Washington (formerly Ill.): Engaged in scientific research with Dept. of Agriculture, arrested Lafayette Sq. meeting Aug. 1918 and sentenced to 10 days. Arrested for Watchfire demonstration Jan. 1919 and sentenced to 5 days in DC jail.

Coralie Franklin Cook (1861-1942), Washington:  A powerful and educated public speaker, married George William Cook, a professor, appointed Board of DC, a leader in the Black women’s club movement, she was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and an ardent suffragist of the inner circles of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Writing in the Crisis magazine, Cook reminded Black men that “disfranchisement because of sex is curiously like disfranchisement because of color.”

Ruth Crocker, Washington: Picketed the White House in 1917, arrested, tried, sentenced, and incarcerated. Participated in Watchfire demonstrations in 1919, jailed for three days.

Edna Dixon, Washington: Picketed the White House in 1917, arrested, tried, sentenced, and incarcerated.

Frederick Douglass, Washington: Douglass was most well-known for his anti-slavery work, was present at the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls. Later he opposed including women in the 15th Amendment, which granted voting rights to African American men.

Katherine R. Fisher, Washington: Picketed the White House in 1917, arrested, tried, sentenced, and incarcerated.

Rose Gratz Fishstein, Washington: Fled from Russia, Union organizer. Participated in Watchfire demonstrations on Feb. 9, 1919, jailed for five days.

Charlotte Vandine Forten (1785-1884), Washington: Worked in the government and taught school.  She had been a founder and member of the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, many of whose members became active in the women’s rights movement. Husband was James Forten.

Matilda Gardner, Washington: Member of national NWP executive committee. Picketed the White House in 1917, arrested, tried, sentenced, and incarcerated.

Angelina Weld Grimke (1880-1958), Washington: She was a well-known feminist, a journalist, playwright, poet, lesbian, suffragist and English teacher at Dunbar High School. A radical feminist, Angelina wrote for several journals such as Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Review.  She became a talented short story author, dramatist, and orator, whose literary works exposed her ideas about the pain and violence in Black women’s lives, and her rejection of the double standards imposed on women by the courts, education, employment, and marriage. She was among the social and intellectual Black elite.

Charlotte Forten Grimke (1837-1914), Washington: An abolitionist and suffragist, Charlotte, a niece of Harriet Purvis and Margaretta and Sarah Forten, was raised in a family of abolitionist zeal.  She was tutored at home, but attended a high school in Salem, Massachusetts where she lived with the Charles Remond family, having been sent there by her father because Black students were denied admission to the Philadelphia public schools. She graduated from high school in Salem, Massachusetts with distinction in 1855.  Taught former slaves in Georgia. Charlotte became a teacher, author, and educator of freedmen, as well as a suffrage supporter.  In DC, she married Francis James Grimke, a former slave and son of white South Carolina planter, Henry Grimke, and nephew of white abolitionists and feminists.  She was affiliated with the American Woman Suffrage Association.

Mary Church Terrell, Washington: Suffragist and famous African American leader. President of the National Association of Black Women. She lectured throughout the country on the importance of the vote for black women. She marched in the March 3, 1913 Suffrage Parade and picketed the White House in 1917.

Anna K. (Kelton) Wiley, Washington: Member of NWP national advisory council.