Ohio (1912)

Ohio (1912)

This fall the colored voters of Ohio have a wonderful opportunity; the 40,000 or 50,000 votes which they cast will undoubtedly decide whether women shall vote in that State and whether the last of the infamous black laws shall be swept from the statute book.

The enfranchisement of women means the doubling of the black vote at the point where that vote is needed. If woman suffrage wins in Ohio, it will sweep the Middle West and East in less than a generation. As Negroes have a larger proportion of women than the whites our relative voting importance in the North will be increased.

Moreover, we need above all classes the women’s influence in politics—the influence of the mother, the wife, the teacher and the washerwoman. In the African fatherland the women stood high in counsel. We need them here again. It would be very bad, indeed, if the colored vote should be adverse to enfranchising women, even though it were not the deciding factor, for the day has gone by forever when colored men could get a respectful hearing for their protest against their own disfranchisement if, when offered the opportunity for voting for enfranchising their mothers, wives and sisters, they should fail to do so. For still another reason it will be unfortunate if the Ohio Negroes vote against votes for women; the vote will be analyzed with keen and eager intelligence, and the results studied for future use. The colored voters will turn many possible friends into critics, to put it mildly, if they inflict upon women that disfranchisement which all thinking people deplore when applied to the Negroes themselves. The general proposition that women ought to have the right to vote surely needs no argument among disfranchised colored folk:

Women are workers; workers should vote.

Women are taxpayers; taxpayers should vote.

Women have brains; voting needs brains.

Women organize, direct and largely support the family; families should vote.

Women are mothers of men; if men vote, why not women?

If politics are too nasty and rough for women voters, is it not time we asked the vote of women to cleanse them?

Is there a single argument for the right of men to vote, or for the right of black men to vote, that does not apply to the votes for women, and particularly for black women?

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1912. “Ohio.” The Crisis. 4(4):181–182.