They were leaders in the women’s suffrage movement!
Huntsville, Alabama celebrated its own hidden figures, honoring the city’s first Black women voters, AL.com reports.
In October of 2021, more than 400 Huntsville residents gathered into the William Hooper Council High Memorial Park to honor its first Black women voters. They were known not only as the “mothers of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement,” but also as leaders in the women’s suffrage movement and builders of the Black Huntsville community.
The six women were among the first 1,300 women to register to vote in Alabama in 1920 after the passing of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate their work, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and some of the grandchildren of the foremothers gathered to pay homage alongside a sea of women dressed in white, the color of the suffrage movement. Many carried signs honoring the women’s work and others told stories of their fight to vote.
Two of the grandchildren of the suffragettes, who are now adults themselves, said they had no idea about their grandmother’s role in history. It wasn’t until the research done by the Historic Huntsville Foundation and Lakeside Methodist Church was unveiled that the family realized they had their own hidden figure. Joan Carter, granddaughter of Mary Binford, said she knew her grandmother was active at the Lakeside Methodist Church, a crux in the Black Huntsville community, but had no idea the role she played as a civil rights pioneer.
Mary Binford Wood pictured second from left with her Howard University graduating class of 1897. Photo Courtesy of AL.com.
A historical marker recognizing the Black suffragists in Madison County was unveiled at the ceremony, baring the names of the six women: Mary Wood Binford (Jordan), Ellen Scruggs Brandon, India Leslie Herndon, Lou Bertha Johnson, Dora Fackler Lowery, mother of iconic Civil Rights leader Dr. Joseph Lowery, and Celia Horton Love (McCrary).
Even after the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, Alabama wouldn’t officially recognize that right until 1953, something Gov. Ivey acknowledged during the ceremony.
“What incredible ladies these women were, incredible Americans. It’s because of their great strength that many of us can participate in the democratic process and in many other positions in our society as well, even running for public office…[They] would be pleased to see how far we’ve come,” said Ivey.
May we speak their names forever. Because of them, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Lee Roop/AL.com