This is part of an ongoing Washington Informer series about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and an initiative that includes Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes that will use the lens of history, the fabric of art and culture and the venue of the public square to shine a light into dark places, equipping all with a compass to chart the way forward. The initiative lives in the institutional home of the Washington Informer Charities.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Georgia Rep. Stacey Abrams, former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) all share a common bond.
Each is greatly respected, and each is considered top candidates for running mate alongside presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Whoever gets the nod, they can look at not their popularity and ability to win votes, but to the past and understand they had a path carved out because of the Black women of the suffrage movement.
“I have to say that we owe everything to our forefathers and mothers. I greatly appreciate their courage, bravery, and persistent pursuit for equal rights for all,” said Deborah Pretty, founder of PYTalkBiz.com, which assists small business owners in learning from costly mistakes of the past.
“The adage is true if we don’t know our history, we will repeat it. And that knowledge and knowing is power. Just to know that people that walk, talk, and look like us inspires us to keep moving,” Pretty proclaimed.
Monique Lewis of Monique Lewis Management added that, as a Black woman of the 21st century, she did not grow up without hearing stories of misogyny, discrimination, and racism.
“Particularly the intersection of all three when it came to Black women,” Lewis said. “From a young age, I understood what the feminist movements did-equality, voting rights, equal pay, and more.
“What was hidden from me, quite intentionally, were the stories of women who looked like me leading or participating in these movements,” she said. “It would take another decade or so before I would start learning, through self-education, the contribution of Black women in feminist movements.
“We literally were the hidden figures, and oftentimes, when white and non-Black women reached their success, they never reached back to pull us up along with them,” Lewis said. “We were utilized and discarded at a whim. This is why I vehemently state that I am not a feminist, I am a womanist who stands for and with other Black women. Being the most maligned, degraded, and abused, I soon realized that we are forced to rely on each other as we lack support from other women.”
If any of the outstanding Black women in line for the vice presidency earns that role, they have their ancestors to thank, said Franchon Davis, a mother of three who works as a postal worker.
“That’s what it comes down to, the women like Sojourner Truth, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who were fearless enough to blaze a trail and make sure that Black women could vote and to make sure that Black people would be counted,” Davis declared.