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Black Women’s History: African American Suffragists and the Struggle for Inclusion

Posted on Mar 3, 2020, by

Michelle Duster holds a photo of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells


Grants from funds within the Community Foundation are helping Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Coalition welcome award-winning author, educator and great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, Michelle Duster, for Black Women’s History: African American Suffragists and the Struggle for Inclusion. The event is this Saturday, March 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Red Lion Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton.

“While the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote, it did not initially extend to women of African American, Asian American, Hispanic American and American Indian heritage,” says Joi Kennedy, Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Coalition steering committee member and Sgt. at Arms for the Northeast Wisconsin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. “It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that these groups of women were officially allowed to exercise their right to vote.”

“With March being Women’s History Month and on the heels of Black History Month in February, Michelle Duster is the perfect speaker to address Black Women’s History and African American suffragists in particular,” says Karen Nelson, Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Coalition steering committee member and a member of both the League of Women Voters-Appleton and the Northeast Wisconsin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The program is part of the year-long series of nonpartisan events being sponsored by the Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Coalition in celebration of the 100th anniversary of American women’s right to vote. Additional programs throughout 2020 will feature speakers addressing various women- focused topics, including the future of women’s rights and more.

The Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Coalition was founded in 2019 and is a collaborative effort of women from women-run associations, organizations and clubs. The group is aligned in the desire to celebrate, educate and advocate women’s rights, and represents the League of Women Voters of Appleton, Northeast Wisconsin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region, American Association of University Women–Appleton and Mid-Day Women’s Alliance.

In addition to the Coalition partner groups, the Fox Valley 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration is supported and sponsored by grants from the Bright Idea Fund, Chuck and Barb Merry Fund and Silton Family–Fox Valley Community Fund, all within the Community Foundation. Other sponsors include Dave and Shirley Strange, with additional in-kind support by Andee Vosters, Vision Navigator; Coalesce Marketing & Design; the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center; and the History Museum at the Castle. Visit Her Voice Her Vote Our Victory for more information.


Want to help bright ideas burn even brighter? Learn how to get involved as a donor, or learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant as a nonprofit organization. Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2019 – 2020!

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