For the Freedom of Her Race: Black Women and Electoral Politics in Illinois, 1877-1932

By Lisa G. Materson | Go to book overview

[5]
Political Recognition for
Themselves and Their Daughters:
The Campaigns of Ruth Hanna McCormick, 1927–1930

“Resolved, that we hereby serve notice on Mrs. Ruth Hanna McCormick that we resent the slight thus put upon the Negro women of Illinois whose vote she solicits, by the employment of an outsider to influence that vote, and pledge ourselves to use our influence to urge the Negro women throughout the state to resent the slight thus put upon them.”1 So went a letter that fifty leading black Republican women from throughout Illinois endorsed in early October 1929 and sent to Ruth Hanna McCormick, a white Republican seeking the party’s nomination for U.S. senator from Illinois. The “outsider” to whom the letter referred was Mary Church Terrell. McCormick had invited Terrell to head her campaign among black women in Illinois. Terrell was an outsider only in the sense that she lived in Washington, D.C., rather than Chicago. She was very much an insider in the black Republican women’s club movement. The women who authored this note knew Terrell— several personally, others certainly by name—from her activism in the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the Colored Women’s Department of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Some had personally celebrated with Terrell at Harding’s inauguration in 1921. Others had worked with her in the late summer of 1924 in Chicago to establish the National League of Republican Colored Women (NLRCW).2 And just three years prior, Terrell had traveled to Chicago to campaign for another Illinois senator, William McKinley. McKinley’s reintroduction of the Dyer Antilynching Bill into the Senate in 1926 generated a groundswell of black female support for his 1926 renomination campaign. Several of the same women who drafted the notice to McCormick in 1929 had, by Terrell’s own account, “extended every courtesy imaginable” to her during the McKinley cam-

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