State Vice President of the Tennessee Education Association, Tanya Coats, Vivian Shipe and Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill . Wearing black to remind the world that African American women were Suffragist too. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — It is the 100 year anniversary of the 19th amendment. It is also the year of revelation.

As the country prepares for celebrations nationwide about the victory giving women the right to vote; there is another preparation going on….the movement across the nation to finally acknowledge that African American women were part of that struggle too.

Initially the races fought side by side to ensure all had the right to vote. After the 15 the amendment was passed giving all men the right; there was an intentional movement to exclude the African American women from the fight and even from the pages of history.

Black women would not be deterred. The right to vote for them was an opportunity to empower the race. They would continue to fight for the right, refusing to be pushed into the shadows. 

African American women would march, strategize, work with white groups where they could, use their power and influence thru their clubs or position untill the right to vote was won in  1920 

It is estimated that over a million African American women were Suffragist thru out the United States leading up to the victory in the summer of 1920.

It is noteworthy of celebration.

One of the major celebrations in Tennessee will be held in Knoxville on Saturday the 29th with a  showcase featuring African American women leaders of Knoxville. 

Presented by I AM The VOICE of the Voiceless; women will celebrate the unsung sisters by performing thru song, dance, poetry, and a living statue presentation of African American women down thru time.

Future Suffragist from grades 3 to 12 will receive medallions for their participation in writing an essay about an African American Suffragist.