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Madison County African American suffragists to be celebrated for Black History Month

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 4:27 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As you know, February is Black History Month! Organizations across the Tennessee Valley have been honoring the contributions and achievements of many people.

A special event is happening Wednesday to honor Huntsville’s first Black women voters.

In October 2021, a historic marker was dedicated to the six African American women who made history in Madison County.

According to Donna Castellano, the executive director of the Historic Huntsville Foundation, the first ever “Hidden Figures No Longer” program will honor the women and discuss the positive impact they had on the community.

Before we get into the event details, let’s go back into history!

American women were granted the right to vote in 1920. In Alabama, more than 100,000 women registered to vote after the ratification of the 19th amendment. This was the most out of any other southern state. Yet, even after that milestone, millions of African Americans — both women and men — were still excluded from the vote.

“In 1920, in order to vote, you had to meet the stipulations of Alabama’s 1901 constitution. You had to pay a poll tax of $1.50,” said Castellano.

“You had to own property and pay taxes on property. You had to prove residency requirements, and you had to pass a literacy test. The effect of this was that it disenfranchised most Black people to vote,” she added.

There were 1,373 registered voters in Madison County that year. Of those women, only six were Black.

Their names were Mary Wood Binford, Ellen Scruggs Brandon, India Leslie Herndon, Lou Bertha Johnson, Dora Fackler Lowery, and Celia Horton Love.

Castellano says “Hidden Figures No Longer” is just one of many events that will keep their legacy alive.

“We’re going to give them a view into the Black community that existed from 1890 up through 1920 and beyond. That some people know, but most people don’t,” said Castellano.

“It’s a really wonderful opportunity to see how Huntsville was shaped by this coterie of Black leaders, who in the face of oppression, did not give up and kept pressing for their constitutional rights,” she added.

The program will be held at 6 p.m. at the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors Building on Monroe Street. Organizers say it will to be livestreamed.

Castellano says the Historic Huntsville Foundation will continue to explore and preserve history and identify buildings associated with Huntsville’s Black History.

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