Nannie Helen Burroughs

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    Black and white portrait photograph of Nannie Helen Burroughs

    Portrait of Nannie Helen Burroughs, dated 1909.(The Rotograph Co./Public domain)

    August is the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Month. To celebrate the passing of the 19th Amendment in August 18 1920 , that gave women the right to vote, we focus the next profiles to four women who dedicated themselves to fight for the rights of women to let their votes count.

    It was not a victory for all, African American women were not allowed to vote in many Southern states until 1965.


    Nannie Helen Burroughs was a leading educator, feminist and suffragist in the early 20th century.

    Born in Virginia in 1879 to formerly enslaved parents, she moved as a young girl with her mother to Washington, DC after the death of her father. There, she excelled as a student – graduating with honors from high school.

    When she was denied a teaching job in the DC public schools, she established her own school, with the help of the National Baptist Convention, to train African American women and girls.

    As an activist, Burroughs wrote and spoke extensively on suffrage, emphasizing the need for African American and other women to work together to achieve the right to vote for all.

    Her 1900 speech “How The Sisters Are Hindered From Helping”, brought her recognition and acclaim.

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