By Savannah Wood
Special to AFRO

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate a century of women’s suffrage, the AFRO and Afro Charities partnered to produce a special edition magazine that highlights Washington D.C. and Maryland’s Black women suffragists. To The Front: Black Women and the Vote connects the stories of both known and unsung heroines with some of their 21st century counterparts through newly commissioned writing and archival documents.

With the help of AFRO and Afro Charities board member Beverly Carter, who also serves as the historian for the Du Bois Circle and Jean Thompson, a member of the Maryland Black Women History Collaborative, we assembled a list of Black women suffragists and got to work researching their lives and their contributions to our early voting rights.

Cover of To The Front: Black Women and the Vote, designed by Rush Jackson & Jerome Harris.

In the magazine, you will find short profiles on 23 of these women alongside contributions from Leah Aden, Deputy Director of Litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Nicole Hanson, Executive Director of Out for Justice; and Dr. Martha S. Jones, author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for All, among many other wonderful women writers.

Before COVID-19 altered every aspect of our lives, the plan was to release To The Front: Black Women and the Vote at the AFRO’s annual high tea this Saturday, April 25. Instead, we will release it online as a screen-friendly reader at Follow the AFRO and Afro Charities on Instagram for updates: @afronews and @afrocharities.

“To The Front: Black Women and the Vote” was made possible thanks to a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project. Savannah Wood is the director of archives for the AFRO.