Suffragettes Honored at State Capitol

Women of color who fought for the right to vote honored with plaque at Hartford Legislative Office


To celebrate previously uncredited women of color who fought for women’s suffrage which eventually led to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the Connecticut Historical Society created a plaque listing the names of 27 of those pioneers.

On National Voter Registration Day, a group of 50 historians and members of the League of Women Voters gathered around the plaque for the unveiling at noon Sept. 20. The process of finding the names of those women and researching their lives took just over two years. One of the women recognized was Mary Townsend Seymour, a Hartford resident and co-founder of the Connecticut National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ms. Seymour organized female tobacco workers into a union and ran for secretary of the state.

“This is a part of a bigger project of 21st century historians and activists to shift the old story about the early white-controlled and led 20th century suffrage movement. This is a move to re-center the historical narrative, with Black people whose names and stories have been lost to suffrage history for more than 100 years,” Tracey Wilson, a Ph.D. and former high school teacher said in a CTInsider article.

Ilene Frank, chief curator at the historical society, stressed that the plaque will make more historical figures remembered in Connecticut. “It wasn’t just one group of women from a certain socio-economic background,” Ms. Frank said in a CTInsider article. “It wasn’t one group of women from a certain racial background who worked to advocate for the right to vote for women, but it was all women who believed in equality,” Ms. Frank said.