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Let’s stop praising Susan B. Anthony

Wells was a journalist who exposed lynching and battled against both sexism and racism (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When most people think of women that changed the course of history, there are some names that always come to mind. Joan of Arc, Virginia Woolf and Susan B. Anthony are popular examples. However, people have a tendency to look past the dark reality of some of these stories: Anthony in particular. Anthony is often credited as one of the first feminists, as the women who helped her fellow females in achieving suffrage.

Actually, let me rephrase, she helped white women suffrage. Anthony’s outrage at her inability to vote didn’t stem from a desire for equality between men and women; it stemmed from her outrage that black men were able to vote before she was. A lesser known quote of Anthony’s states, “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” She often voiced her distaste that “illiterate” and “former slaves” were allowed to vote. She viewed them as lesser, which is why she helped the movement. She believed her ethnicity made her superior to black men. She believed that she deserved a vote, but they didn’t.

Anthony didn’t fight for the rights of all women. She fought for the votes of white women. Her fight was rooted in pure racism, yet so many people still continue to praise her as if she single-handedly gained the right for women to vote. There are so many women who fought, and so many women whose hearts yearned for true equality. Let’s praise Sojourner Truth. Let’s praise Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell. Let’s praise women that battled against racism and sexism from all sides. Let’s praise women that fought for ALL women, regardless of race.

Let’s praise women whose motives were rooted in equality from the very beginning.

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