By Lori Perkins
Most of us were taught about the suffragettes who fought for the right for women to vote, but most of us didn’t get the P.S. in that history lesson that that amendment did not give the vote to all women, as Native Americans were not citizens, Asian Americans were not allowed to become citizens and African American women were excluded from the 15th amendment which gave the right to vote to Black men only.
Native American women were only granted the right to vote in 1924 under the Indian Citizen Act. Asian American women were officially granted the right to vote in U.S. elections in 1952 under the McCarran-Walter Act and African American women were free to vote in 1965 under the Voting Rights Act. Before these acts were passed, there were many discriminatory barriers preventing women, especially women of color, from voting. Non-English-speaking Americans (meaning immigrants) were not given the right to vote until 1975, and many of them were women.
Looking back, we can pretty clearly see that the fight over the amendment was not just about sex; it was also deeply entwined with race, as so much of American history is.
While the women's suffrage movement had its roots in the anti-slavery movement, suffragist leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony split off from their alliance with abolitionists because they were outraged that, under the 15th amendment, Black men would get the vote while white women were still denied this right. This led to such a break between the suffragettes and Frederick Douglass that they stopped speaking for over 40 years. Frederick Douglass died just hours after his public make-up with Susan B. Anthony in 1895.