It’s Time The ‘Truth Be Told’ About Black Women’s Leadership In The Fight For The VoteHistorians in the News
tags: African American history, suffrage, voting rights, womens history, interview
To curate this collection, Pivotal Ventures partnered with Allison K. Lange, historian and associate professor of history at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, as well as several libraries and archives, including Shaneé Yvette Murrain, Community Manager at Digital Public Library of America. The collection features portraits and artifacts from a range of partners including the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the New York Historical Society, the Arthur & Elizabeth Schlesinger Library, the Schomburg Center, the Library of Congress, and Gates Archive and Collections.
I had the opportunity to speak to Lange and Murrain about their experience putting together Truth Be Told, the story they are hoping to tell, how a collection like this plays a role in highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion in history, and how it helps connect us to the moment we are in right now as we continue to work toward achieving true gender and racial equality in this country.
Marianne Schnall: What story are you looking to tell with the Truth Be Told collection, and how is this story different from what we traditionally learn about the suffrage movement in the conventional accounting of history?
Allison Lange: One of the things we're really trying to do is tell the story of the suffrage movement, but a very much updated one to reflect a lot of the wonderful materials that people like Shaneé with the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) made ever more accessible. We're telling this story to really demonstrate the ways that Black women in particular were not only participants in this movement but also really vital leaders in this movement. So that is one of the main goals of this collection. And that's really different from the story that we have normally encountered in textbooks and perhaps in older documentaries and things. This is really meant to tell not just an updated story for 2020, but actually a far more accurate story, a far more true story that really captures the range of women's rights activism in the 19th century.
Shaneé Murrain: This type of storytelling is putting artifacts in the hands of people to interact with the story, interact with the materials that are about and created by these women. These women played significant leadership roles leading up to and during the U.S. women's suffrage movement and beyond, yet their stories and contributions are not widely known. With the Truth Be Told project, we’re sharing these artifacts as they demonstrate the critical roles of Black women played at the forefront of the campaign and women's rights so that they're not too often forgotten, and they have been collected. This is an effort to share that more widely with the public.
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