Susan B. Anthony
‘A true republic: men, their rights, nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.’
Susan B. Anthony entered the pantheon of American Civil Rights heroes in an era long before the fist-shaking and noisy demonstrations of the 1950s and 1960s. Her period of activism included the abolition movement prior to emancipation, and the early reconstruction phase when many of the Jim Crow laws came into effect. She is, however, far better appreciated as a feminist, and certainly she was at the vanguard of the women’s suffrage movement towards the end of the 19th century.
Suffrage was in fact central to the movement for black emancipation, and it was in reaction to growing black access to the vote in many southern states that prompted the introduction of discriminatory laws. In 1863, Anthony was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Loyal League to support the government of Abraham Lincoln, in particular his abolitionist agenda. After emancipation, it was she and another early feminist by the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton who founded the ‘American Equal Rights Association’, dedicated to the achievement of universal suffrage. Part of the mandate of the organization, apart from promoting women’s suffrage, was to help create a mood of participation among emancipated blacks, and to motivate them to vote.
Nonetheless, Susan B. Anthony remains primarily associated with the struggle for women’s suffrage, and while she did not live to see the 1920 passing of 19th Amendment, which prohibited the states from denying citizens the vote on the basis of sex, but her spirit certainly hung heavy over the event.
Susan B. Anthony, a women of privilege who place principal above all else, certainly stands proud in any list of Civil Rights heroes.