Women’s suffrage panel exhibition visits Slover Library in Norfolk

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) —  The traveling panel exhibition “We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia” is set to visit the Slover Library at the end of the month.

The exhibit is from the Library of Virginia and will tell the story of the campaign for women’s right to vote in the Commonwealth. The program will be available from September 29 through November 3 and will commemorate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

We Demand tells the full story of the campaign during which 80,000 Black and white women went to the polls on November 2, 1920, to vote. Virginia suffragists created the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia organization that coordinated the efforts of scores of local chapters. They were successful in getting the General Assembly to propose a woman suffrage amendment to the state constitution.

We Demand helps us understand who these women were and how they developed the practical arguments and strategies they believed would work with those they needed to convince.

The exhibition also explores the divergent opinions of white Virginian suffragists as they debated whether their goal should be an amendment to the state or to the federal constitution and whether their tactics should merely on persuasion or militancy.

Some Virginia suffragists joined the more radical Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (now the National Woman’s Party) and actively participated in demonstrations in Washington, D.C., where they were arrested and jailed for their efforts.

In a state that had substantially disenfranchised its black male citizens, African American women had to work more quietly than their white counterparts to avoid a backlash that might jeopardize their cause.

Their contributions to the suffrage movement in Virginia have often been overlooked. We Demand presents their efforts on behalf of social justice and suffrage as an important part of the story.

Norfolk City and Slover Library Officials


The program also shows a video made up of photos and newsreel clips from the 1900s movement including the 1913 suffrage march in Washington, D.C. (Virginia women participated), and the 1919 promotional tour called the “Prison Special.” 


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