While Texas women petitioned for a suffrage amendment to the state constitution in 1868, racism prevented most of them from working with African-American suffragists. When women won the right to vote in 1918, prejudice in the form of poll taxes, white primary laws and the Ku Klux Klan still deprived black women of their right to vote.
Despite opposition, black Texas women still fought to influence politics. They became delegates to the 1918 state Republican convention, worked with the NAACP to find legal remedies and formed their own voters’ league. In 1920, Mrs. R.L. Yocome, a black Houston woman, may have been the first female to run for the state Legislature.
Even though their efforts continued across the state, it took the elimination of the poll tax, the decline of the Klan and the combined power of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for black Texans to gain full access to voting.
This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.