Amy Allison, California, Wage Earner Suffrage League discussed on KCBS Radio Weekend News


There was organizing in the labor movement of the wage earner Suffrage League, organized a a float in the Labor Day parade and got Samuel Gompers, who was the head of the A F L, who came out To San Francisco for that parade to endorse suffrage. So there were many, many activists. Just wanna remind listeners real quick that they are listening to K CBS and depth are weekly, deep dive into the events in trend shaping life in the Bay Area and beyond. On Keith Man Cockney, joined by Melissa Call Ross and today on the program as we marked 100 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment, we consider the past present and future of women in politics. Our guest right now is writer Elaine Ellenson, the co author of Wherever There's a Fight, How runaway Slave suffragist immigrants, strikers and poets shaped civil liberties in California and Elaine. As we kind of hinted at the beginning of the program. There has been a little bit of a rethinking of the legacy of the suffrage movement, and we've seen a lot of Folks commenting on that so far this year, especially commenting on the fact that for a lot of women in 1920, just because there was this constitutional change didn't necessarily mean that they Overnight gained access to the polling booth. There was still poll taxes. There was still a ll manner of ways to keep women of color away from the polls. What did that look like? Here in California? I mean, much of the Jim Crow legacy was in the South. But were there barriers in California as well for women of color? There were, but I don't think it was as pronounced as it was in the East Coast. Largely because of the organizing of African American women. Chinese American women who played a major role in the suffrage movement, although not necessarily in the mainstream suffrage movement, so African American men in California who were organized into the franchise League and the colored convention. We're probably the strongest advocates among men for women's right to vote, and there were many African American women who organized in clubs and through their churches for suffrage, for example. Sarah Massey Overton organized both in the African American community and then organized in San Jose. An interracial suffrage league. Ah, Chinese American woman tile young. Who had been active in fighting the trafficking of Chinese women that I I spoke about earlier became an activist in the Chinese American community. Speaking at rallies in Cantonese and putting out leaflets in Chinese, she actually became the first Chinese American woman to vote. Another interesting woman is Selina Solomon's, She thought that the mainstream suffrage movement was to society led, so she opened the votes for Women Club where she served lunch, two waitresses and shop girls. And laundress is and then she organized them to what precincts with her and to go to the immigrant neighborhoods. She even lead a sit in in City Hall, San Francisco City Hall. So I'm not saying it was an ideal situation, but it was definitely not. It's polarized as in the rest of the country, where there were very deep chasms along racial lines in the suffrage movement. Elaine. Thanks very much, and along those lines were actually now going to bring in Amy Allison will bring her into the conversation. Amy's a political organizer and activist and founder of she, the people that's an advocacy group advocating for women of color and politics and representative Democracy. Amy Thank you so much for joining KCBS in death. Thanks for having me so let's talk a little bit about women in politics and engagement and women of color. How unfinished is the business of suffrage? Well, the reason I founded she the people was really that in the suffragettes movement that was really taken over and over, taken by white supremacy and racist who embraced fairness when it came to Two white women but really sold out African American women and other women of color who had really labored to bring the vote to to all women. And this betrayal of trust. Opened a rift between women of color and white feminists that persists to this day. Part of what is, you know that the goal in 2020 is to say look, because race defines how people vote. More powerfully than gender, and it has been that way for decades. There isn't like a women's movement and overall women's movement without really looking at The difference between black lead Latina, Asian American and indigenous women versus white women as political actors in the issues and what drives voters and I think that's where where we are 100 years later. That white women benefited from the activism of women of color in order to secure the vote. But it wasn't until the voting Rights Act and the immigration and Ah act in 65 that gave or guaranteed women of color regular access to the ballot box, And I think that's very important because women of colors voting and political work. Then, as of now and as is now is really deeply tied to the movement for racial justice for economic justice and continues to this day. And along those lines, just speaking anecdotally for a moment. My mother is an 86 year old black woman, and she was just having this conversation with her. She retired to Hawaii so around the time of Hawaii's primary, and she Said something striking to me, which is I would crawl to vote and she references the civil rights era and people like Medgar Evers and the fight for for the right for for black women and for people of color to vote. Um do you find that kind of engagement continuing among generations again? I'll mention my mother is 86. Do you find that younger women of color would crawl to vote? I so identify Melissa with with that? I remember my dad taking me To vote before he was eligible to vote. He says Amy, you will vote. Every time our people died for this right and first that that it was just my family or maybe something my dad said. But in my work where I talked to black women in particular all over the country, there's a commonality in terms of how seriously we take Our civil rights how much weight we put on it that from the very beginning, the quest for black women to secure the right to vote was deeply tied to empowering communities. To combat the racial terror that was directed at black and other communes of color in the wake of the civil war and the seriousness by which Black women in particular. Take voting still practiced persists today and I'll say in 2020 black and brown women are most likely to be targeted Voter suppression and that's in states where a little determine you know this the results of this year's presidential contest Senate contest and these air states with a long history of both slavery, Jim Crow. And civil rights violations. States like Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and in those states, where there are active voter suppression practices and women of color have often been prevented, even after in the wake of the 65 Voting Rights Act in the wake of that still have challenges voting and getting their voting votes counted. What we hear from black women like us is I'm gonna crawl through glass. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll stand in line and we saw in the primaries in a state like Texas or ST like Georgia in the primary is just about a month and a half ago. You had women sitting in line for five hours with little Children. Because that's what they're willing to do. And I think that that's born out of both and understanding that citizen rights were hard, hard fought the rightest tenuous and you must show up. For the community. It's our greatest, most patriotic duty and it's ah, it's beyond like a political thing or a kind of a once or twice a year thing. It is deeply cultural for black women, and I think that that's something that you know was set in place 100 years ago that we could say is that the long Line of the activism to get the right to vote and.

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