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Let's Talk About It: Women's Suffrage: July: Vanguard

In January 2021, the Woodward Library was awarded a grant from the American Library Association and support by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This guide provides an overview of grant materials and upcoming programming.

July 2022 Program

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won The Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

Facilitators: Dr. Paula White and LaNeeça Williams

When: Thursday, July 21, 5:00 p.m.

Where: Office of Equity, Access and Inclusion (416 College St.)

About the Book

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won The Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All by Martha S. Jones

 Call Number: JK1924 .J66 2020

 ISBN: 9781541618619

 Publication Date: 2020-09-08

 "The epic history of African American women's pursuit of political power -- and how it transformed America. In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women's movement did not win the vote for most black women. Securing their rights required a movement of their own. In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women--Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more--who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals."

Program Facilitators

Paula WhiteDr. Paula White

Paula White is an assistant professor in the department of languages and literature at Austin Peay State University. White specializes in African American literature and Black feminist literary studies. Her research focuses on 20th-century Black women writers in Black, Southern and queer literature.


Ms. LaNeeca WilliamsLaNeeca Williams

LaNeeça Williams is the chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator at Austin Peay State University. She is responsible for developing and integration of the strategic plan for diversity, including recruiting diverse talent, fostering an inclusive work environment, the compliance of Title IX, and ensuring accountability of those efforts through the Office of Equity, Access and Inclusion. Ms. Williams is currently working toward a doctorate in Business and Public Leadership.

Discussion Questions

Use the questions below to guide your reading and prepare for the session. (All discussion questions provided by the ALA.)

  1. Vanguard begins by introducing us to several Black women preachers. Whose life and career most interested or surprised you? Why?

  2. What was the role of Black churches in facilitating the rise of civil rights activism?

  3. What conflicts did women preachers face in Black churches, and how did they respond to them?

  4. What are some of the reasons Black women voters were seen as a larger political threat than white women?

  5. What role did Black newspapers like The Crisis and The Chicago Defender play in the suffrage movement?

  6. How did historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) factor into the fight for suffrage?

  7. Vanguard shows that the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment did not mean the end of Black women’s activism for civil rights. What obstacles to Black voters did activists like Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells have to fight once the vote was ostensibly granted?