Document 13: Letter from Alice Paul to Mrs. William Spencer Murray, 24 January 1921, National Woman's Party Papers, 1913-1974, Library of Congress (Microfilm (1979), reel 6).

Document 13: Letter from Alice Paul to Mrs. William Spencer Murray, 24 January 1921, National Woman's Party Papers, 1913-1974, Library of Congress (Microfilm (1979), reel 6).


       Alice Paul did respond to the mounting pressure and, as the following letter makes clear, the National Woman's Party did permit a representative of African-American women a place in the unveiling of the sculptures of the founding mothers of the movement for woman suffrage. In this letter, Paul also expressed a willingness to have the issue of the disfranchisement of African-American women raised at the convention that was to follow the Capitol ceremony. While going part way to meeting the demands of supporters of suffrage for Black women, Paul, nevertheless, did not address the question of a formal role for African-American women at the convention.


                  • January 24, 1921

Mrs. William Spencer Murray
157 William Street
Catskill, N. Y.

My dear Mrs. Murray:

       Mrs. John Rogers[A] informs me that you are interested in the question of the representation of negro women at our convention.


       We have invited the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs to participate in the ceremony of presenting to the Capitol the statues of the suffrage pioneers. We are informed that this is the largest colored woman's organization in the country. They are planning to have one colored woman lay the wreath on behalf of the organization, and another carry the wreath.


       We have made arrangements with regard to this matter with Mrs. Mary Church Terrell of the District of Columbia, honorary president of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, and with Mrs. Gray of the District of Columbia, president of the National Republican Colored Women's Clubs. Both of them state that they are entirely satisfied with this representation of their race at the convention. I enclose a copy of a letter which I wrote to Miss Ovington on this subject last week.


       The question of whether the Woman's Party should, if it continues as a permanent organization after our convention, take up the question of the disenfranchisement of the negro is something which the convention would of course have to consider before any action could be taken upon it by any new board that is elected. If you are interested in having this subject brought before the convention, will you not arrange to have some one present it at one of the sessions of the Resolutions Committee, where all plans for future work by the Woman's Party are to be presented and thrashed out. In case you wish to have this subject presented before the Resolutions Committee we would like to know the name of the speaker whom you wish to have consumed [sic] by the presentation.


       We hope that you will be able to attend the convention so that you can present this subject yourself, if you desire to do so.


                  • Very sincerely yours,


                    [Alice Paul]

                    National Chairman





A. Mrs. John Rogers (Elizabeth Selden White Rogers) was an active member of the National Woman's Party, who participated in the picketing in front of the White House in 1917. She was arrested and served three days in the Occoquan Workhouse before she and others were pardoned by President Wilson. Her biography appears in the Online Biographical Dictionary.
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