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.
The women’s suffrage movement had many heroines, all of whom bravely fought for the rights of women in the United States.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has highlighted five African American suffragists who may not have received the recognition they assuredly deserve.
Museum officials believe everyone should know each of them, including Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin, who dedicated her life to supporting women’s and civil rights.
“You cannot be neutral,” Lampkin once said. “You must either join with us who believe in the bright future or be destroyed by those who would return us to the dark past.”
Historians at the museum noted that Lampkin began hosting local suffragette meetings at her home near Pittsburgh and organizing African American women to engage in consumer groups in 1912. Much of her efforts centered on the organization of women’s groups, and her leadership earned her the position of president of the Lucy Stone Woman Suffrage League in 1915. Later in life, she also served as a field secretary and fundraiser for the NAACP.
Lampkin’s social and political activism began shortly after graduating from high school, according to BlackPast.org. After migrating to Pittsburgh, she worked as a motivational speaker for homemakers and organized women into consumer protest groups.
As an active member of the Lucy Stone Women’s Suffrage League and the National Suffrage League, Lampkin rallied for women’s right to vote. Understanding the challenges specific to African American women, she also became involved with the National Association for Colored Women (NACW). She was later named the national organizer and chair of the executive board.
Due to Lampkin’s exceptional activism for African Americans, she was profiled in the Pittsburgh Courier in December 1912.
“In response, Lampkin became a strong advocate of the Courier and even received a cash prize in 1913 for selling the most subscriptions,” editors at BlackPast.org wrote. “After several years of investing time and money to this newspaper, Lampkin was elected vice-president of the Courier Publishing Company in 1929.”
“Nothing is done unless women do it,” Lampkin said.
According to the Three Rivers Community Foundation in Pittsburgh, Lampkin survived a stroke in 1964 and died March 10, 1965. She was laid to rest in Homewood Cemetery in Pennsylvania.
Lampkin counted as the first Black woman in Pennsylvania to be honored with a historical marker when the Keystone State placed one in front of her Webster Avenue apartment building in 1983.