Colored Women as Voters (1912)

Colored Women as Voters (1912)

By Adella Hunt Logan

More and mocre colored women are studying public questions and civics. As they gain information and have experience in their daily vocations and in their efforts for human betterment they are convinced, as many other women have long ago been convinced, that their efforts would be more telling if women had the vote.

The fashion of saying “I do not care to meddle with politics” is disappearing among the colored woman faster than most people think, for this same woman has learned that politics meddle constantly with her and hers.

Good women try always to do good house-keeping. Building inspectors, sanitary inspectors and food inspectors owe their positions to politics. Who then is so well informed as to how these inspectors perform their duties as the women who live in inspected districts and in inspected houses, and who buy food from inspected markets?

Adequate school facilities in city, village and plantation districts greatly concern the black mother. But without a vote she has no voice in educational legislation, and no power to see that her children secure their share of public-school funds.

Negro parents admit that their own children are not all angels, but they know that the environments which they are helpless to regulate increase misdemeanor and crime. They know, too, that officers, as a rule, recognize few obligations to voteless citizens.

When colored juvenile delinquents are arraigned, few judges or juries feel bound to give them the clemency due a neglected class. When sentence is pronounced on mischievous youngsters, too often imprisoned with adult criminals and come out hardened and not helped by their punishment. When colored mothers ask for a reform school for a long time they receive no answer. They must wait while they besiege their legislature. Having no vote they need not be feared or heeded. The “right of petition” is good; but it is much better when well voted in.

Not only is the colored woman awake to reforms that may be hastened by good legislation and wise administration, but where she has the ballot she is reported as using it for the uplift of society and for the advancement of the State.

In California the colored woman bore her part creditably in the campaign for equal suffrage and also with commendable patriotism in the recent presidential nomination campaign.

The State of Washington, new with its votes-for-women law, has already had a colored woman juror. Why not? She is educated and wealthy and wants to protect the best interests in her State.

Colorado has never had better school officials than her women have made. Judge Ben. Lindsey is as popular with colored women voters as he is with white women voters. The juvenile court over which he presides gives the boy a square deal regardless of color. A majority of mothers and fathers can be counted on every time to support such an official.

Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, the other full suffrage States, have few colored women, but these few are not hurt by, but are being helped by, their voting privileges.

In the States that are now conducting woman suffrage campaigns the colored woman is as interested and probably as active as conditions warrant. This is notably true of Ohio and Kansas.

A number of colored women are active members of the National Woman Suffrage Association. They are well informed and are diligent in the spread of propaganda. Women who see that they need the vote see also that the vote needs them. Colored women feel keenly that they may help in civic betterment, and that their broadened interests in matters of good government may arouse the colored brother, who for various reasons has become too indifferent to his duties of citizenship.

The suffrage map shows that six States have equal political rights for women and men, and that a much larger number have granted partial suffrage to women. In all these the colored woman is taking part, not as fully as she will when the question is less of an experiment, not as heartily as she will when her horizon broadens, but she bears her part.

This much, however, is true now: the colored American believes in equal justice to all, regardless of race, color, creed or sex, and longs for the day when the United States shall indeed have a government of the people, for the people and by the people—even including the colored people.

Citation: Logan, Aella Hunt. 1912. “Colored Women as Voters.” The Crisis. 4(5):242–243.