This month, March, marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Harriet Tubman, and it is fitting that the League of Women Voters of Orange County is shining a light on the contributions of women who were trailblazers in fight for women’s rights. This month, we will feature Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt, three amazing women who helped pave the way for equal rights for women. If you have not already done so, you also have the opportunity to honor one of these inspiring women by choosing a special membership category named in their honor as a Warrior for Democracy.
Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), namesake of one of the Orange County League’s special membership categories, was a visionary suffragist who created the national League of Women Voters on Valentine’s Day 1920, shortly before women won the vote in August that year.
Catt envisioned a grassroots organization dedicated to the belief that educating citizens plays a critical role in democracy; she saw the League of Women Voters as a path to help women use their new power to help shape public policy. This League would empower voters and defend democracy. It would advocate for legislation and educate for citizenship. Carrie Catt was determined that the League of Women Voters would always be above partisan divisions, “a semi-political body, . . . nonpartisan and all-partisan.”
(Photo courtesy Library of Congress)
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), namesake of one of the Orange County League’s special membership categories, was the leading organizer of the early period of the women’s suffrage movement over more than 50 years.
Anthony fought for equal rights throughout her life, beginning with her successful crusade for the 13th Amendment that ended slavery. She and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed several early women’s political organizations in the United States, such as the National Women's Suffrage Association, leading to a new generation of women leaders.
She also drafted a constitutional amendment that gave women the right to vote, known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, which she and Stanton presented to Congress. Although she did not live to see its approval in 1920, Susan B. Anthony is considered the most important leader of the battle for the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in the United States.
Photo is in the public domain. This summary is taken from https://www.nps.gov/people/idabwells.htm and August 2018 Tennessee Bar Journal about Ida B. Wells.
Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931) was a trailblazing educator, journalist, Black suffragist, and activist. Born in Mississippi one year before the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, her brave actions continue to inspire women today.
Parentless at the age of 16, she rallied to obtain a teaching job to support herself and her siblings. She was a teacher who advocated for educational equality in segregated schools.
As a journalist and publisher, she courageously investigated and wrote about the horrors of lynching in America in the 1890s. After moving to Memphis, in 1892 she became part owner and editor in chief of a newspaper, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. Even though her newspaper headquarters were destroyed in protest of her writing about lynching, she continued to use her pen and actions to advocate for change.