The passage of the Illinois Presidential and Municipal Suffrage Bill in the summer of 1913 offered Negro women in Chicago the opportunity to merge their social welfare activities with electoral power. This was primarily due to the creation of the first and one of the most important Negro female suffrage organizations in the state, the "Alpha Suffrage Club." The Alpha Suffrage Club is believed to be the first Negro women's suffrage association in the United States.
It began in Chicago, Illinois in 1913 under the initiative of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her white colleague, Belle Squire. The club elected officers and held monthly meetings.
The Club aimed to reinforce Negro involvement in the struggle for women's suffrage, due to Negro women being unable to be involved in the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
The Alpha Suffrage Club was established to partially give a voice to women who could not represent themselves individually, and worked specifically towards giving a voice to Negro women, as well as to “politicize” Negro women into the government system. In 1916, the club had nearly 200 members, including well-known female suffrage activists Mary E. Jackson, Viola Hill, Vera Wesley Green, and Sadie L. Adams.
Within the next three years the group membership expanded into the thousands. The women were motivated by and sought to put an end to the countless lynchings of Negros in America.
Thanks to the help of the Alpha Suffrage Club, in 1915, Oscar Stanton De Priest became the first Negro alderman in the history of Chicago. Amongst their community activities, they spread their support for, and within, the Negro population with their newsletter, "The Alpha Suffrage Record," first printed on March 18, 1914.
The publishing of this newsletter is very significant, because this is the first time that Negros had a public political voice.
READ THE FIRST NEWSLETTER HERE ─► The Alpha Suffrage Record; Volume 1, Number 1, March 18, 1914 in our Digital Research Library of Illinois History®