Document 5: Emma Wold to Miss Anna A. Clemons, 2 November 1920, National Woman's Party Papers, 1913-1974, Library of Congress (Microfilm (1979), reel 5).
Emma Wold's reply reveals that the National Woman's Party was not about to support through a court challenge the right of African-American women to vote in the South. One can imagine that the description that Wold offers here of the failure of an "Enabling Act" to move through Congress must have been extremely discouraging to Anna Clemons and others whose rights were systematically denied by local election officials. This policy permitted leaders of the NWP such as Alice Paul to contend that the Party supported suffrage for all women without actually having to do very much on behalf of African-American women denied the right to vote.
November 2, 1920.
Mrs. Anna A. Clemons,
Southport, N. C.
My dear Mrs. Clemons:
I have called Miss Paul's attention to your letter of October 24 describing the registration conditions for colored women in your neighborhood.
We have been giving the situation in the south a good deal of thought. but at present we see only one solution to the matter, and that is one which is not available now. We feel that we must press through Congress an Enabling Act which will place federal authority over the registration and election officials in all the states and so make interference with, or prevention of, the proper execution of the election laws a federal offense. We had hoped to get this Enabling Act through Congress before its adjournment last spring, but did not get farther than the introduction of the measure. We expect to be able to work for the passage of this Act at the coming session of Congress.
Very sincerely yours,
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