Kate Gordon and the suffragette movement
When people think of the suffragette movement they think of Susan B. Anthony but there were many pioneers risking public excoriation and potential jail time. Kate Gordon of New Orleans was one such heroine. She was active in women’s clubs that provided a sanctuary of sorts for women to air their grievances and organize around suffrage. These efforts gained success when in 1898, Louisiana granted the right to vote to white, female property owners over tax issues only. Despite this right, many women refused to vote out of fear of public shame and the disapproval of fathers, sons, and husbands. It was behind these closed door that Gordon began to foster a plan to overcome the fear that these women harbored. In 1899, she began compiling a list of all female property owners in New Orleans. She then targeted these eligible voters by championing a bond issue that was upcoming for a vote, dealing with the first adequate sewerage and drainage system for the city. Gordon enticed many women to sign a proxy that enabled her to vote on their behalf thus sparing them the intimidation of physically showing up to vote. The bond passed and catapulted her to fame as one of the rising stars of the suffragette movement. The right to vote for all women was granted in 1920, though many Southern states would quickly move to disenfranchise black women. It would be a long and hard battle before black women could stand in equality with their white counterparts.
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