Lesson Plan

Women's Suffrage, Racism and Intersectionality

African American women standing in front of the headquarters for colored women voters

Courtesy of the New York Public Library

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GRADE LEVEL: High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, Language

The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote and was ratified on August 18, 1920.

Women's Suffrage Movement: Seeking the Right to Vote

Suffrage is the right or privilege of voting. In 1848, hundreds of mostly women and some men attended the first woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. to “discuss the social, civic and religious condition and rights of woman,” including women voting. Women suffrage organizations were forming across the U.S. and gaining momentum.

Racism in the Women's Suffrage Movement

Racism became a factor, causing strife amongst coalitions of white and Black women leading to divisiveness within the women's suffrage movement. After the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 granted African-American men the right to vote, some leading activists opposed the amendment and prioritized white women’s suffrage over voting rights for all women. When the 19th Amendment passed, women of color were still unable to vote.

About the Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the women’s suffrage movement, reflect on how Black women were excluded from it and explore a central question about the centennial anniversary by writing an essay.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn about the history and context of the suffrage movement.  
  • Students will reflect on the role of Black women and racism in the suffrage movement by reading opinion and narrative essays.
  • Students will explore central questions about the suffrage movement and contemporary parallel examples by writing an original essay.