In 2015, Carey Mulligan starred in SUFFRAGETTE, a film that chronicled women’s to vote. What they didn’t tell you in that film is that Black women like Sojourner Truth, Francis Ellen Harper and Ida B. Wellswere very much a part of that fight for women’s rights. Women weren’t just given the right to vote…we took it on August 18, 1920.
Our struggle began with mass demonstrations, passing pamphlets on the street, standing on soapboxes and explaining why women should and need to vote. But, men, just as the remain today, saw these actions as aggressive, militant and misbehaving. It explains why many were apprehensive to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and continue to fear women in political power to this day.
Historical origins of are disclosed of Emmeline Pankhurst, one of movements founding mothers was a Quaker, whose belief system was that everyone was equal in the eyes of God despite gender, race or religion. We learn of debates between Frederick Douglas and Susan B. Anthony and how one cause and faction of society was given priority over another. We are reminded that The United States Constitution was drafted wand constructed by alll white men and while it states – WE THE PEOPLE – those people did not include immigrants, women or people of color. We learn that women were arrested and treated as political prisoners.
Most importantly, we learn that Black women saw what it was like to have Black men disrespected and disenfranchised. If you couldn’t vote, you couldn’t serve on a jury or be appointed to be a judge. A judge who could have brought white perpetrators to trial for lynching. We learn the importance of delegates, Senate Sub-committees.
Director Michelle Ferrari does an excellent job of stringing all this history together with archival footage, photographs, music and sound effects. I already appreciated and revered my right to vote, but this comprehensive look makes me proud that folks fought for over 72- years for me to enjoy that right and privilege. THE VOTE can be seen on PBS, Monday July 6th.