Unlike us, black women in 19th century America were conscious of the fact that true freedom entailed not just libera tion from a sexist social order that systematically denied all women full human rights. These black women participated in both the struggle for racial equality and the women’s rights movement. When the question was raised as to whether or not black female participation in the women’s rights movement was a detriment to the struggle for racial equality, they argued that any improvement in the social status of black women would benefit all black people. Addressing the World Congress of Representative Women in 1893, Anna Cooper spoke on the status of black women:
For the first time ever in American history, black women like
Mary Church Terrell, Sojourner Truth, Anna Cooper, Amanda Berry Smith and others broke through the long years of silence and began to articulate and record their experiences. In par ticular they emphasized the "female” aspect of their being which caused their lot to be different from that of the black male, a fact that was made evident when white men supported giving black men the vote while leaving all women disenfran chised. Horace Greeley and Wendell Phillips called it "the Negro’s hour” but in actuality what was spoken of as black suffrage was black male suffrage. By supporting black male suffrage and denouncing white women’s rights advocates, white men revealed the depths of their sexism-a sexism that was at that brief moment in American history greater than their racism. Prior to white male support of suffrage for black men, white women activists had believed it would further their cause to ally themselves with black political activists, but when it seemed black men might get the vote while they remained disenfranchised, political solidarity with black people was forgotten and they urged white men to allow racial solidarity to overshadow their plans to support black male suffrage.