Volume 7, No. 1
December 2019 / January 2020
The Forgotten Suffragists
by Jacqueline Kirley

Test yourself: how many of these names do you recognize?

Susan B. Anthony                                                               Harriet Forten Purvis
Maria L. Baldwin                                                                 Sarah Redmond
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper                                            Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Adele Hunt Logan                                                               Mary B. Talbert
If you knew any names other than Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, congratulate yourself. You are likely one of the few who recognizes African American suffragists. If you didn't, don't feel too bad. They and their stories are hardly known.
WWHP is coordinating with the Chicago branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and with the Vivian G. Harsh Society ( http://harshsociety.org/ )  to bring a program to Chicago to address this gap in our knowledge. 
  "Recognition Delayed: The Contributions of African American Suffragists and Why Their Stories Matter" will take place on  Sunday, March 8, 2020 from 1:00 - 3:30pm at the Daley Library, UIC, 1st floor, 801 S. Morgan Street in Chicago.
The event is wheelchair accessible, free, but with limited seating. Registration is required:
The program will include a lecture on African American suffragists by historian Marcia Walker-McWilliams, author of Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality. The lecture will be followed by a panel that explores connections between our suffrage history, the women's movement, and social activism. Historian Elizabeth Todd-Breland,  Associate Professor of History at UIC, who wrote   A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago since the 1960s ,  will moderate the panel.
We are fortunate to have veteran activist, Betty Magness, Illinois Political Director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as a panelist, along with 3 younger activists: Asiaha Butler, co-founder and president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E);  Ibie Hart, Woman's Business Development Manager, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; and Anne Jamieson, President, League of Women Voters of Chicago.
Attendees will enjoy refreshments at the beginning and end of the program as they visit staffed tables of Chicago organizations devoted to voter registration and civic engagement. 
More information on the above-mentioned African American suffragists is included in Roslyn Terborg-Penn's book, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 (1998).


Victory for the ERA as Virginia becomes the 38th state to ratify: 
Now the work begins
Susie Straus

Happy days have arrived for the supporters of making the Equal Rights Amendment  (E.R.A.) part of the U. S. Constitution. On January 15, 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the E.R.A. A constitutional amendment must be ratified by three-quarters of the states, or 38, before it can be added to the constitution. However, there was a time limit placed on the bill as it was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1972. In the case of the E.R.A, a deadline for ratification by the states was set for 1979. Although the original deadline was extended to 1982, only 35 states had adopted the measure by then. Will this be used to prevent  adding the E.R.A.  to the constitution? 

Moreover, there are five states that have rescinded  their earlier ratification. According to an article in The New York Times, in some previous cases wherein states decided to rescind their prior approvals of a constitutional amendment, their initial approvals were nevertheless counted. I say there is a precedent in the books. Prohibition was in the constitution and it took another ratification process to repeal it by adding another amendment to the constitution. We shall see how this plays out.


Irene Goins: Fighter for Civil, Women's and Voting Rights
Inducted into the Union Hall of Honor
On December 6, 2019, pioneering activist, Irene Goins, was posthumously inducted into the Union Hall of Honor at the Illinois Labor History Society's (ILHS) dinner. Goins was inducted by Alma Washington, ILHS Trustee and Working Women's History Project (WWHP) board member, and the honor was accepted by the president of WWHP, Amy Laiken.    
For more information on Irene Goins, please see the biography below written by Julia Berkowitz, which appeared in the ILHS' program that was distributed at the event. WWHP would like to thank Julia Berkowitz and the Illinois Labor History Society for granting us permission to reprint it in our newsletter. 
The pioneer clubwoman and African-American labor organizer, Irene Goins, was born in Moberly, Missouri in 1876. Raised in Springfield, Il, she moved to Chicago with her husband in 1895. By 1913, she was known in Chicago as a leading suffragette and for her work on the campaign for the eight-hour day with Agnes Nestor, President of the Chicago Chapter of the Women's Trade Union League. During and after World War I, she was tapped to work with Mary McDowell to organize black women in Chicago's stockyards and packinghouses into Butcher Workmen's Union, Local 213. From 1917-1922, Mrs. Irene Goins served as the only African-American woman on the Executive Council of the Chicago Women's Trade Union League. She was commended throughout the city for holding black and white women workers together in solidarity during the July 1919 Race Riot, which left thirty-eight dead.
In a March 1920 letter to Florence Simms, Industrial Department Director for the Young Women's Christian Association, Margaret Dreier Robins, President of the National Women's Trade Union League (NWTUL) stated of Goins:
Through her intimate association with the Women's Trade Union League she was able to serve most effectively in averting some of the threatening tragedies in the terrible race riots in 1919. Enclosed is a copy of a resolution distributed at all of the colored churches in Chicago in the time of the race riots: 
Mrs. Goins and Mrs. Eva Crozier of the colored workers, with Mary Haney, Agnes Nestor and Elizabeth Christman of the Women's Trade Union League, made it possible for the women workers in the stockyards, colored and white, to stand together unflinchingly during the riots. Through the published statements of white and colored officials of the Stockyards Labor Council the public was asked to witness that these colored and white men and women workers refused to be swept into mob riots and ravages. Carl Sandburg in his pamphlet on "The Chicago Race Riots" states: "This was the first time in any similar crisis in an American community that a large body of mixed personalities and races, Poles, Negroes, Lithuanians, Italians, Irishmen, Germans, Slovaks, Russians, Mexicans, Yankees, Englishmen, Scotchmen, proclaimed that they were organized and opposed to violence between white union men and colored union men." (At the Philadelphia Convention of the National Women's Trade Union League it was unanimously voted to appoint Mrs. Goins Secretary of a Department for the Study of Needs of Colored Women workers, but because of lack of funds this work has not yet been undertaken.)
Goins spoke frankly at NWTUL conventions in the 20s of the need to implement practically the League's goals of racial equality and organizing among black workers. The League passed important resolutions on this point, largely through her urging. After 1922, Goins served as President of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, instrumental in building early networks of support for A. Philip Randolph's Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). By 1926, Goins herself was actively working for the BSCP. Her life was cut short just three years later, when she passed away after several months of illness in 1929, at the age of 52. She is buried at Mt. Glenwood Memory Gardens West in Willow Springs, Illinois.


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