TIME

1920s

1920 | VOTES FOR WOMEN

THE SUFFRAGISTS

IT WAS THE CULMINATION OF GENERAtions of activism, and Carrie Chapman Catt, who had devoted three decades to the suffrage struggle, was among the crowds that celebrated the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. “Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom,” Catt told a victorious throng. “Prize it!”

Among those agonies was an ongoing debate about how women should go about securing those rights—and the ongoing disenfranchisement of women of color.

Catt opted for pragmatism and politics, lobbying on a state level and in the halls of Congress. Along the way, she tussled with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, militant suffragists who preferred a more dramatic approach. Paul and Burns organized public parades and staged a groundbreaking, yearslong White House picket with banners that implored President Woodrow Wilson to act. The “Silent Sentinels” endured arrests and imprisonment in a squalid workhouse where they were brutalized and force-fed. Which approach was more effective? “Every movement for social change needs both,” says suffrage historian Johanna Neuman.

For women of color, though, the 1920 victory did not guarantee voting rights. Despite their fervent

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