2020 marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which ensured equal suffrage for women nationwide. To mark this historic anniversary, the Oregon Women’s History Consortium is sponsoring a program called #ChalktheVote, and has partnered with twelve organizations to participate in the effort statewide. Oregon Black Pioneers is one of those twelve organizations, and on Aug. 26th, 2020, Women’s Equality Day, OBP will join Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria to highlight the work of Oregon suffragists through the #ChalktheVote campaign.
#ChalktheVote involves identifying sites with historical significance related to woman suffrage and highlighting those sites with bold images and stories in sidewalk chalk. The end result will be multiple locations across Oregon with the accomplishments of women’s rights activists on display. Organizers are encouraging the participation of local residents. A list of participating organizations, and an overview of important dates and figures in Oregon’s fight for woman suffrage, can be found online.
While women’s right to vote in Oregon was affirmed in 1912, it took another eight years for the right to be enshrined in national law. 2020 not only marks the centennial of woman suffrage, but also the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 15th amendment, which outlawed voter disenfranchisement on the basis of race or prior servitude.
Many Black women contributed to the movement for women’s right to vote in Oregon. Mary Beatty joined suffrage activist Abigail Scott Duniway in attempting to vote all the way back in 1872, Hattie Redmond served as the president of the Oregon Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association, and Lizzie Weeks registered many Black women to vote through her role as President of the Colored Women’s Republican Club. These justice advocates and others can be seen in Oregon Historical Society’s newest exhibition Nevertheless, They Persisted in Portland; OBP Executive Director Zachary Stocks served on the exhibit design team for this show.
On Women’s Equality Day, OBP and Clatsop County Historical Society will feature the achievements of suffrage figures in Astoria’s history. One example is Emma Warren, who was appointed to the local school board in violation of laws which forbade women from holding elected office. Astoria was also a place where Black suffrage was supported even before the passage of the 15th amendment.
OBP will also give special attention to the fact that not all women received a right to vote immediately after the 19th amendment passed. Native American women could not vote until 1924. Puerto Rican women couldn’t vote until 1935; Chinese American women didn’t gain the vote until 1943; and Black women were barred entirely from voting in some Southern communities until the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Oregon Black Pioneers was founded in 1993. Its mission is to research, recognize, and commemorate the culture and heritage of African Americans in the State of Oregon. Its vision is to be the premier resource for information about Oregon’s African American culture and heritage. For more information please contact email@example.com.