placement in the New Deal hierarchy have overshadowed the contribution of the previous decade to their political mobilization and increased political leverage. The ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 lent significant impetus to black women's interest in the American political process, although the continuing legacy of racism conditioned the nature and extent of their participation. The racist policies of the National American Woman Suffrage Association continued in the 1920s with its successor organization, the! League of Women Voters, to discourage black participation. Black women leaders, while organizing their own separate organizations, encountered racism from the very elected officials for whom they campaigned. Yet black women's discontent and frustration with white women's organizations, with the Republican party, and with a racist society in general during the 1920s translated not into an abandonment of politics but into the emergence of new leaders, alliances, and strategies.
In 1936, when the majority of black voters shifted to the Democratic party, the unswerving Republican allegiance of such leaders as Nannie Burroughs and Mary Church Terrell no longer won the applause of the black electorate. The Democratic party had shed its long-worn garb of white supremacy, its image as the party of the Solid South, segregation, and black disfranchisement. Under Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, the Democrats came to be perceived as the party most receptive to black opportunity. Mary McLeod Bethune's visibility in the Roosevelt administration and Crystal Bird Fauset's membership on the Democratic National Committee expressed both the continuation of women's political activism and shifting opportunities for black women leaders. In 1932 Bethune sat on the Board of Counselors of the Women's Division of the Republican National Committee with such notable Republican stalwarts as Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and Mrs. William Howard Taft. In 1936 she presided over Roosevelt's Black Cabinet. 53 Bethune's shifting allegiance symbolized the changed mood of the black electorate and, certainly not least of all, woman's prerogative to change her mind.