Wednesday, February 27, 2013

INEZ | 5A. The 1913 Suffrage Parade Line of March [11]

Suffrage march line How thousands of women parade today at Capitol 1913.jpgThe line of march of the suffrage parade looking from the front toward the back. Nowhere will you see "Howard University" or "Deltas".

The black sorority at Howard University, the Deltas, was initially told they would not be allowed to march because it would set back the cause of votes for women. Some leaders of the Congressional Committee of NAWSA were concerned about a southern backlash and wanted black women excluded from the parade.

Inez Milholland Boissevain
at head of parade, 1913.
This was the consensus until Inez Milholland heard about it. Her father John E. Milholland was the first Treasurer of the NAACP.

She insisted that the Deltas be allowed to march. This intervention is dramatized in my play, Take Up the Song. (New version available from the author, 2016. Contact

However, in segregated Washington, the sorority had to assemble in a "colored only" area. They were inserted at the end of the parade.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett defied the Congressional Committee and slipped in with her NAWSA chapter, Chicago early on in the parade. Others followed suit.

While perhaps 30 black women marched in the parade in 1916, in the centennial parade virtually all of the marchers were from the Delta sorority.

If we were to redraw the line of march in 1916, the Deltas would account for the entire line except for the floats and bands at the end!

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