Lining a hall in the state capitol right now is a new reminder of the Connecticut women of color who used their voices to create true democracy.
It is called “The Work Must Be Done” - a traveling exhibition that’s part of a larger effort to tell the story of our state’s women of color in securing women’s right to vote.
The research to learn the stories of the women was led by Dr. Brittney Yancy, a history professor formerly at Goodwin University, along with Dr. Karen Li Miller. It started ahead of the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment.
“In the state of Connecticut, there was a perfect opportunity to talk about the women of color who were on the front lines. They were on the front lines, but always missed from our memory, and from the history books,” Yancy said.
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Yancy’s research, along with tremendous help from community members, led to the discovery of countless stories and the creation of several banners sharing the stories and work of the suffragists. The banners will eventually go around Connecticut to schools and city and town halls and more, so more people can know about these women, too often forgotten by history.
“The history that we teach the next generation, they have to see who these people are. They need to know their names. They need to know their stories” Yancy said.
Along with the banners, there’s an accompanying website that takes a deeper dive into how the women, through their church groups and the ever present Black sororities and more, stood up when their race and their gender were used against them, defying segregation, and sexism to work for equality for all.
“Inclusive history is history. And if we only learn about one segment of how a right was won, we don’t look at the more complete story, then we don’t really fully understand all the various nuances that went into this amazing achievement,” said Ilene Frank, chief curator at the Connecticut Historical Society, which joined in the partnership to bring this research to the public and hosts the digital exhibition.
The banners will be on display at the Capitol, in the hallway between the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building through Sept. 28. You can see the digital exhibition by clicking here.
If you are interested in booking the traveling exhibition to come to your facility, click here.