Celebrate Black History Month by reading through some of the El Paso County Historical Society Password articles.
African American Suffragists in El Paso
By Janine Young
The women’s suffrage campaign in the United States was a remarkable political and social movement that spanned seven decades of American history. A little known aspect of this history is the story of African American suffragists in El Paso. The city had a small yet intensely cohesive African American community that was socially and politically active. Black women from this community formed their own suffrage league, the El Paso Negro Woman’s Civic and Equal Franchise League (NWCEFL), which became the only African American suffrage organization in the United States to apply for membership in the Texas Equal Suffrage Association (TESA) or the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
Beginning in 1914, El Paso women began organizing for the vote. In 1915, white women in the city formed the El Paso Equal Franchise League (EPEFL). In March 1918, Texas women won partial suffrage when the state legislature passed a primary suffrage bill that gave Texas women their first voting rights by allowing them to vote in primaries. El Paso women immediately began mobilizing to register to vote in the Democratic primary scheduled for July 1918.1
In response to the new law, African American women in El Paso formed the NWCEFL in June 1918 and, with the support of white suffragists in the EPEFL, requested membership in NAWSA. The NWCEFL was one of the few black suffrage organizations in Texas. Its support from the EPEFL is a rare instance of cross-racial cooperation in the suffrage movement in the South. Even though the NWCEFL was denied membership in both NAWSA and TESA, the African American women who were its members continued to advocate for voting rights and to work with local white suffragists in registering and mobilizing women to vote in 1918 and 1919.
Read the full article: https://www.elpasohistory.com/2021/02/08/african-american-suffragists-in-el-paso/
Forgotten Color: Black Families in Early El Paso by Charlotte Ivy
This Password article was featured in Volume XXXV, No. 1, Spring 1990.
A Profile of Black citizens in New Mexico on the Eve of Statehood by Monroe Billington
This Password article was featured in Volume XXXII, No. 2, Summer 1987.
Black Cowboys Also Rode by Barbara J. Richardson
This Password article was featured in Volume XXXI, No. 1, Spring 1986.
Black History and New Mexico Place Names by Monroe Billington
This Password article was featured in Volume XXIX, No. 3, Fall 1984.
Black History Month resources:
Black History Month – Library of Congress: https://blackhistorymonth.gov/
Exhibits and collections from the Library of Congress: https://blackhistorymonth.gov/exhibits-and-collections/
Afrofuturism: A History of Black Futures: https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/exhibitions/afrofuturism