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This article explores links that middle-class African American women drew between efforts to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment and the emergence of black Democrats in the 1928 American presidential election. Because of their longstanding interest in civil rights and temperance, middle-class black Republican women were uniquely positioned to make connections between phenomena that historians have typically analyzed separately, the repeal movement and the early stages of the voting realignment. They argued that Democratic success in repealing the Eighteenth Amendment would set a precedent for eliminating the Reconstruction Amendments. They also identified black opposition to prohibition as threatening to racial uplift ideology, a class-based anti-racist strategy that, among other proscriptions, demanded abstention from liquor. Black Republican women's decision to invoke this declining ideology and blend it with their constitutional observation undercut not only the broad appeal of their constitutional argument, but also their claims to represent African Americans in party politics.

In the heat of the 1928 presidential contest between New York's Democratic Governor Alfred E. Smith and Republican Herbert Hoover, the Colored Women's Department of the Republican National Committee (RNC) issued a pamphlet entitled "The Prohibition Issue as a Smoke Screen." The pamphlet sought to focus the attention of black voters on one of the most contested topics of the 1928 election, whether the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of liquor, should be gradually dismantled, repealed altogether, or remain part of the U.S. Constitution. The pamphlet argued that Democrat Alfred Smith's promise to weaken or annul the Volstead Act—the enforcement provision of the Eighteenth Amendment—was merely "a smoke screen to attract voters" to the Democratic Party, including the majority of black voters, who largely because of the Republican Party's key role ending slavery and establishing black citizenship rights, had been loyal Republicans for over six decades. Leading black Republican women feared that black voters would put their desire for a drink or profits ahead of any kind of historical commitment to the Republican Party. Smith knew perfectly well, the pamphlet explained, that he could not fulfill this campaign promise. As the pamphlet pointed [End Page 63] out, "There are 195 Democrats in Congress, 126 of whom represent the dry South, and under no circumstances would they vote to modify the Volstead Act." Smith's promise to modify the Volstead Act, black Republican women asserted in the pamphlet, was a "smoke screen" white Democrats were fanning in order to lure black voters who were increasingly dissatisfied with the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, these Republican women insisted, did not represent black interests—quite the contrary. Once Democrats regained control of the White House, they would, in the words of the "Prohibition Issue as a Smoke Screen" pamphlet, "complete our disfranchisement, segregation and humiliation."1

The 1928 presidential election battle between Hoover and Smith was marked not only by partisan wrangling over the regulation of liquor in America, but also by the early stages of a major voting realignment. Over a quarter of the voters in black precincts in Chicago and Harlem, and scores of black voters in other cities, ultimately cast their ballots for the Democratic candidate Alfred Smith in 1928.2 Over the next several years, the ranks of black Democrats swelled, and in 1936, for the first time the majority of black voters cast their ballots for a Democratic presidential candidate. American women had acquired full voting rights only eight years before significant numbers of black Democrats materialized during the Hoover-Smith contest. A number of middle-class black women had spent a good portion of those eight years painstakingly creating Republican women's organizations and gaining a small foothold in the machinery of the Republican Party. At the national level, these groups included the National League of Republican Colored Women (NLRCW) and the organization that had issued the "Prohibition as a Smoke Screen" pamphlet, the Colored Women's Department of the Republican National Committee. While they, too, were disappointed with the Republican Party's lackluster record on black rights during the 1920s, they were not ready to abandon the party, especially after having spent the past eight years carefully organizing to gain a foothold within Republican networks. Still, by 1928 these women were looking restlessly around for a reason to support the Republican Party. They found a reason in the Republican Party's prohibition plank.

This article explores the links that black women reformers drew between two entirely new scenarios in the 1920s, the rise of a well-organized movement to repeal a constitutional amendment, and the significant drift of black voters to the Democratic Party in national elections. Because of their longstanding interest in both civil rights and prohibition, black women reformers were uniquely positioned to make connections between what historians have typically analyzed as separate phenomena, the repeal movement and the early stages of the voting realignment.3 They pointed to the implications of the repeal movement for the Reconstruction Amendments: [End Page 64] the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment defining American citizenship as derived from and protected by federal jurisdiction rather than state government, and the Fifteenth Amendment enfranchising black men. Leading black Republican women argued that if successful, the Democratic drive to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment would set a dangerous precedent for eliminating the similarly unpopular and unevenly enforced Reconstruction Amendments. In other words, the repealing of one amendment might lead to the repeal of others. These women's effort to show the connection between these seemingly unrelated amendments that had been ratified in entirely different political eras was part of their ongoing project of shedding light on southern abuses and ensuring a stronger federal government that fulfilled its constitutional obligations. In their reading of the Eighteenth Amendment debate, it is possible to see the ways that African American women carried into the 1920s a discourse about federal rights and responsibilities that had animated U.S. politics during the 1860s and 1870s.

They were not entirely successful, however, in applying nineteenth-century strategies to these two new scenarios in the 1920s. Republican women leaders characterized black support for the Democrats in 1928—and by extension Smith's repeal position—as a threat not only to the Reconstruction Amendments, but also to their own gendered claims to authority. Since the 1890s black women reformers, many of whom were active in Republican politics, had asserted that they were more morally suited than men to lead the race out of the profound problems that it faced at the end of the nineteenth century. They would do so by instructing their neighbors on the tenets of racial uplift, the nineteenth-century ideology that insisted that African Americans could demonstrate to white Americans their fitness for full citizenship through displays of modest and dignified behavior. This included abstention from liquor. By the 1920s, however, both racial uplift ideology and women's use of it to claim community authority were being challenged from several quarters. Rather than retreat from this ideology, women reformers dug into it even further, letting racial uplift's injunction against drinking spill into their partisan rhetoric.4 In 1928, black Republican women leaders employed this increasingly outdated language of racial uplift to associate black Democrats with immoral behavior. Black Republican women accused black Democrats—that is poor black Democrats—of switching parties simply because they wanted a drink. They also insisted that Democratic voters who were willing to put their enjoyment of the vibrant leisure culture of 1920s America before the Reconstruction Amendments had betrayed the race and were in need of middle-class women's guidance. Their decision to rely on a declining ideology and to blend it with their constitutional observation not only undercut the potential broad appeal [End Page 65] of that cogent constitutional argument, but it also severely undermined their claims to represent African Americans in party politics. At the very least, their interpretation about the motivations of black Democrats caused them to misread the forces driving black abandonment of the Republican Party. Even more damaging, black women's use of racial uplift ideology to discredit black Democrats compounded the sense that the Republican Party, including its black leaders, was out of touch with the majority of black voters.

While the history of black women reformers' approach to prohibition politics during the early twentieth century is grounded in U.S. women's and African American history, it is fundamentally a story about the limits of authenticity politics—of definitions of loyal group behavior—for mobilizing a broad base of political actors and for forwarding an egalitarian rights-based political agenda. This is especially the case when definitions of group authenticity or loyalty are shaped by class-based assumptions about behavior and leadership.

Temperance, Prohibition, and Racial Uplift Before the Repeal Movement

African American women's analyses of the relationship between prohibition and civil rights began to emerge long before the 1928 presidential election, though some of their most sophisticated arguments emerged in that context. Two key strategies forged during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would ultimately shape black women reformers' reading of the repeal movement and the early stages of the voting realignment in the 1920s. First, women reformers insisted that as wives and mothers, women were better situated than men to instill in future generations the values of self-help and respectability that they believed to be so essential to race progress. Black women reformers were so insistent that their instructions on rightful living would help combat racial injustice that abolitionist and temperance activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper declared the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to be the "woman's era." And in 1896 mostly middle-class black women founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) with the express purpose of reforming poor black women's behavior and living environments. Indeed, historian Michele Mitchell has demonstrated that many reformers, both women and men, insisted that properly educated mothers and homemakers were the key to the very survival of the race. Healthful and respectable homes would produce vigorous offspring who would lead morally upright lives. In addition to propagating a physically and morally robust race, women reformers believed that personal displays of modesty, including abstention [End Page 66] from liquor, and even more importantly, campaigns to instill such values among poor blacks would go a long way toward undermining devastating racial stereotypes of African Americans as immoral and undeserving of citizenship.5

As historian Deborah Gray White has explained, this "woman's era" philosophy—the belief that women must lead the race out of the profound problems it faced—was grounded in the "sad loss of confidence in the ability of most black men to deal effectively with the race problem."6 In the realm of temperance politics, this lack of confidence was evident when women reformers characterized men as easily misled from their responsibilities to community and family by the promise of liquor. Anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells did so, for instance, during the 1890s while embroiled in a highly publicized feud with Frances Willard, president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). In the international press, Wells condemned Willard's assertion that the "grog shop" was the "centre of power" in black communities.7 In the pages of the black press, however, Wells argued that "Miss Willard's statements possess the small pro rata of truth of all such sweeping statements. It is well known that the Negro's greatest injury is done to himself."8 Wells highlighted economic self-injury, but others accused black men of political self-injury, of selling their ballot to liquor interests who in turn were intent on defeating "local option" elections (municipal, state, and county level elections in which residents voted on whether to grant or deny licenses to sell liquor).9 In 1900, it was to such charges of vote selling and electoral misconduct that NACW activist Anna Duncan was referring in the NACW organ, National Notes, when she urged women to demand temperance in their homes and communities as a first step toward eliminating political corruption. As Duncan insisted, "We, as women, can do much in our various stations to purify and strengthen the voting population in all the lines of right and justice."10 This interpretive framework that men were easily misled by liquor and that women had an obligation to prevent them from engaging in such forms of self-injury and race betrayal would change very little during the next few decades.

Black women reformers invoked the rhetoric of racial uplift and women's home protection when they entered the battle over enacting a federal prohibition amendment, which heated up on the national stage after 1913. During the 1910s, NACW activists did not directly tie their support of a prohibition amendment to their personal campaign efforts for the Republican Party as they would in the 1920s. The non-partisan quality of NACW rhetoric on the Eighteenth Amendment during the 1910s was very much a reflection of national prohibition politics. Recognizing deep divisions in their own parties on the issue, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats included an explicit statement about prohibition in their national [End Page 67] platforms until 1924.11 Unlike presidential candidates, black clubwomen were forthright about their position on prohibition. At the 1914 and 1918 NACW Biennial Conventions, members passed resolutions endorsing the enactment of both prohibition and woman's suffrage amendments. In her address on the opening day of the 1914 convention, Ida Cummings, a NACW executive officer who would emerge as a Republican activist in her home state of Maryland in the 1920s, told her receptive audience that "[t]he temperance question is of vital importance to us." Using racial uplift rhetoric, Cummings beseeched the four hundred plus women gathered before her, "let us work with renewed energy to rid the land of that which is doing so much to drag us down as a race."12 One year later, National Notes similarly urged its readers to advocate national prohibition and "become positive factors in helping to remove the great source of evil to mankind."13 With heavy bipartisan support, Congress approved the prohibition amendment in 1917 and sent it to the states for ratification.14 Women who attended the NACW's 1918 convention sent telegrams to Congress and President Woodrow Wilson calling for a prohibition amendment. In their resolutions, NACW activists maintained, not unlike many white prohibitionists, that a federal ban of liquor would eliminate an "arch enemy of the home and the nation" and, in 1918, would conserve food supplies necessary for war mobilization.15

The second strategy black women reformers developed prior to the repeal movement, which ultimately carried into their anti-repeal work in the 1920s, entailed finding moments in elections to refocus attention on the Reconstruction Amendments. After the Eighteenth Amendment's ratification, black clubwomen suggested that concerns over implementing the Volstead Act might raise white interest in enforcing the Reconstruction Amendments and the Nineteenth Amendment in the South. The ten resolutions passed at the NACW's 1920 convention included the following: "We go on record as endorsing and urging the enforcement of the 18th Amendment to the Federal Constitution of the United States as interpreted in the Volstead Act. And we also urge our National Congress to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Federal Constitution."16 The 1920 convention minutes do not reveal whether NACW members explored the full implications of their resolutions, although they clearly situated their approach to the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act within the context of the Reconstruction Amendments. Their pairing of resolutions pointed to the Volstead Act's obvious Reconstruction era analogs, the Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871, and the Civil Rights Bill of 1875.17 The Enforcement Acts and Civil Rights Bill were designed to put federal muscle behind the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. As white supremacists moved to disfranchise southern black women after the Nineteenth Amendment's [End Page 68] enactment, NACW President Hallie Quinn Brown similarly pointed to the Eighteenth Amendment when calling for federal intervention on behalf of black women voters. At the 1921 suffrage memorial ceremony on Capitol Hill, Brown insisted, "the government is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to enforce the Prohibition Amendment and we hereby petition that congress employ the same means to enforce the Nineteenth."18 This approach toward the Eighteenth Amendment reflected the general optimism that politically active middle-class women held during 1920 and 1921 about the possibility of using their newly acquired ballot to influence politics.

Repeal and Civil Rights in the 1920s

African American women reformers began to publicly unravel the profound implications of national prohibition for civil rights during the mid-1920s. They did so in the context of an anti-prohibition movement that grounded calls for modifying the Volstead Act and repealing the Eighteenth Amendment in the racially exclusive rhetoric of states' rights and white supremacy. For example, in a 1925 Harper's Magazine article, no less than Yale University's President Emeritus Arthur Twining Hadley defended nullification of the Eighteenth Amendment in such terms. "Any considerable number of citizens who are habitually law-abiding," Hadley asserted, can nullify a statute "bad enough in itself or dangerous enough in its direct effects to make it worth while to block its enforcement" through disobedience. As precedent, Hadley, like many others, pointed to white disagreements over the regulation of black bodies and rights. Through collective noncompliance, the "people of the North" had nullified the Fugitive Slave Law, while the "people of the South" had nullified the Reconstruction Acts.19

The modification and repeal movements undermined the NACW's efforts to broaden white enthusiasm for federal enforcement generated by the Eighteenth Amendment's ratification. Even more foreboding, black women reformers pointed out that the modification and repeal movements threatened the continued inclusion of the Reconstruction Amendments in the Constitution. Politically active women adjusted to the new realities of prohibition politics and moved from an offensive to a defensive position. By 1924, they linked the Prohibition and Reconstruction Amendments less as a strategy to encourage an activist federal government in the realm of civil rights, and more as a countermeasure to prevent the further erosion and, still worse, the elimination of the Reconstruction Amendments.

NACW leaders urged members to work against modification and repeal efforts. "In these days when all America is exercised over the enforcement of the 18th Amendment," New Jersey clubwoman M. E. Burrell wrote in a 1924 edition of National Notes, the New Jersey Federation was doing [End Page 69] its part to support "an amendment so vital to the industrial, mental and moral welfare of our country" by running "good government" groups for the black women of the state. In these groups and other contacts with local women, the New Jersey Federation, Burrell explained, was advancing a "program, which included respect and observance of the law—all laws—the constitution in its entirety, without special favor to any one law or amendment, fully realizing that the power of constituted authority in America is much endangered by the violation of one amendment as another."20 One month after Burrell's article appeared, the NACW held its Fourteenth Biennial Convention in Chicago. National Legislative Chairman Mazie Mossell Griffin similarly "urged the women of the National to do all in their power to prevent the repeal of the [18th] Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as this would place the 14th and 15th amendments in jeopardy." Toward this end, the Pennsylvania resident "urged the women of the different state clubs to educate their members to the importance of a wise use of the ballot."21

Two years later, as the drive to modify the Volstead Act culminated in another set of congressional hearings, the NACW's leadership remained vigilant. The Senate subcommittee running the hearings gave reason for celebration when it resoundingly rejected the various modification proposals presented in April 1926. Gathering for their biennial meeting in Oakland, California just three months after the close of the Senate hearings, NACW leaders knew that the battle over the Eighteenth Amendment was far from over. Already the anti-prohibition forces were shifting their strategy away from modification toward outright repeal.22 The NACW Executive Board passed a resolution to "stand firmly behind law enforcement and the Eighteenth Amendment."23 That October the Rhode Island Federation of Colored Women's Clubs "endorse[d] the National Federation's stand for strict enforcement of the Prohibition Amendment."24 In a 1926 National Notes editorial, Myrtle Foster Cook went much further than her cohort by pointing to the implications of the Eighteenth Amendment debates for the Reconstruction Amendments. Following the same line of argument presented by Griffin at the 1924 convention, Foster Cook asked, "Shall the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. be enforced or shall it be modified? The question is before the country." The Kansas City, Missouri resident continued: "Shall the press, the platform, and the pulpit create an atmosphere of respect for constitutional law and order, a spirit of purpose within the people for the observance of law, and a desire for its enforcement?" "If they do," Foster Cook asserted, "then some day the country will remember the Fifteenth Amendment and demand that Negroes everywhere be allowed to vote; and they will remember [the] Fourteenth [End Page 70] and Thirteenth and wipe out peonage, and discriminations in the vital and essential rights of black American citizens."25

The 1928 Election: Repeal, Partisan Politics, and Realignment

During the 1928 presidential campaign, leading middle-class women placed their interpretation of the relationship between the Eighteenth Amendment and the Reconstruction Amendments at the center of their Republican campaign work. 1928 was the first presidential contest in which the candidates presented distinct positions on prohibition: long-time prohibition opponent and Democratic nominee Alfred Smith vocally favored withdrawal of both the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment, while Republican Herbert Hoover denounced efforts to repeal or undermine the Eighteenth Amendment.26 Black women reformers were organizationally well positioned to push forward an energetic campaign for the Republican presidential candidate and his anti-repeal position. NACW activists had campaigned for Republican candidates under the auspices of a Colored Women's Department of the RNC for more than a decade, and in 1924, they had created an independent black Republican women's organization, the National League of Republican Colored Women.27 The direct overlap between NACW and NLRCW leadership during the 1920s ensured that the NACW's reform agendas, including members' positions on temperance and prohibition, were carried into the explicitly partisan NLRCW.28

Yet even as black Republican women created the machinery for canvassing tens of thousands of black voters, white Republican counterparts were working to break up the Democratic "solid South" by cultivating the support of southern "lily-white" Republicans who were well versed in the politics of southern white supremacy.29 At a 1928 NLRCW conference, Virginia clubwoman Ora Brown Stokes described her deep frustration during the 1924 presidential election. With "[n]o help from the white Republicans," Stokes explained, "We financed ourselves, worked to get out our own literature," even though there was "nothing sent [to] us to give out." Given that the situation in 1924 was "mighty hard," Stokes asked those gathered before her at the NLRCW conference, "I want to know what we can do about it?" When Sallie Hert, head of the Women's Division of the RNC, shifted the focus of discussion to white Democratic electoral fraud, Stokes countered in no uncertain terms: "It is not the attitude of the Democrats but the attitude of the Republicans that discourages us, or makes us fighting mad."30

Stokes was far from alone among NLRCW leaders in her deep disappointment with the Republican Party. Abbreviated minutes from the closed-door sessions at this May 1928 conference indicate that internal [End Page 71] debates took place among NLRCW activists over their future involvement with the Republican Party. A list of subjects discussed included: "Why Parties"; "Loyalty—Fighting It Out in the Family"; "General Reactions—result of Party Inaction"; "What are the Amendments to the Constitution Good For?" and "What of 1928?" By the end of the conference, NLRCW members prepared a slogan for the upcoming 1928 election that was published in the black press.31 This slogan read, "Oppose in State and National Campaigns any Candidate who Will Not Commit Him or Herself On the Enforcement of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments."32 This slogan was far more an affirmation of these women's commitment to inserting into national elections a discourse about federal rights and responsibilities embedded in the Reconstruction Amendments, than it was a declaration of Republican partisanship.

As the campaign continued into the late summer, black Republican women only increased pressure on white party women to address Republican racism. In a letter signed by the entire organization, the NLRCW explained to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Mabel Willebrandt that in their canvassing work "we were confronted with the following question: Is there a definite movement on the part of the National Republican Committee, functioning thru your office, to rid the Republican Party of Negro leadership in the South?" "We find it difficult, in the face of this question," they continued, "to offset the insidious propaganda which is being broadcast most effectively by the Democratic Party whose Presidential Candidate has been nationally known for his singularly fair attitude in dealing with our group."33 Although Willebrandt's response did not make it to the archives, the correspondence offers a window into the difficult position in which black Republican women found themselves. They were simultaneously demanding accountability from seemingly indifferent white Republicans, while trying to prevent the increasing defection of African Americans to the Democratic Party, a phenomenon that Nannie Helen Burroughs characterized as protest votes: "people in this election are going to vote against things and candidates, and not for anything."34

Republican women primarily chastised poor African Americans for switching allegiance to the Democrats. They were well aware, however, that prominent women reformers like themselves—women with whom they had worked closely in both the club movement and Republican Party politics—were campaigning for Smith in order to protest Republican indifference. Among this group of reformers who supported Smith, none were better known than Bessye Bearden and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Both Bearden and Dunbar-Nelson were Vice Chairmen of the Smith-for-President Colored League that was headquartered in Harlem, the site of the nation's largest community of black Democrats.35 This was not the first foray into [End Page 72] Democratic politics for either. Bearden had succeeded Ferdinand Q. Morton as head of Harlem's influential Negro Democratic Club in 1920.36 For her part, Dunbar-Nelson, who was the first African American woman to serve on Delaware's State Republican Committee, cut off her ties with the Republican Party after Republican congressmen failed to push through the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill in 1922. By 1924, Dunbar-Nelson was serving as Director of Colored Women at Democratic Party headquarters in New York and urging "all loyal colored women to come to the aid of the race by asserting political independence."37 In 1928, both Bearden and Dunbar Nelson delivered speeches on behalf of the Smith campaign.38 It is possible to imagine Dunbar-Nelson telling her audiences in 1928, as she did in a 1927 Messenger article, that "[w]hen the Negro woman finds that the future of her children lies in her own hands—if she can be made to see this—she will strike off the political shackles she has allowed to be hung upon her, and win the economic freedom of her race." How the Democratic Party would specifically help African American women gain economic freedom or protect future generations, Dunbar-Nelson did not say. Nor did she specifically mention anything about prohibition. But what was clear from this Messenger article, and her campaign activities in 1928, was that as far as Dunbar-Nelson was concerned, black women would not protect future generations by, as she put it, "slipp[ing] quietly, easily and conservatively into the political party of [their] male relatives."39

One of the most prominent black women leaders to be associated with the Democratic Party in 1928 was Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) founder Marcus Garvey. What distinguished Jacques Garvey from her Democratic colleagues Bearden and Dunbar-Nelson was the fact that the UNIA's largely poor following perceived Marcus and Amy Jacques Garvey as representing their interests. In Harlem and Chicago, where the Garvey movement had set down significant roots, Garveyites held pro-Smith rallies. Just days before the election, two white delegates from the Smith-for-President Inter-Racial Committee attended a UNIA rally in Philadelphia at which Jacques Garvey was speaking to publicly thank her "for her leadership among Negro women."40

In the face of such prominent black Democratic voices, black Republican women turned to Hoover's anti-repeal position in making their argument for why black Americans should remain loyal to the GOP or, at the very least, why they should oppose Smith. On a September Saturday in 1928, Burroughs urged black Baptist women from throughout the nation who had assembled at the Lampton Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky to cast their ballots for Herbert Hoover on November 6. All week these women had joined leading Baptist men in Louisville for the annual convention of the National Baptist Convention, Inc. (NBC). On that fall [End Page 73] Saturday, NBC women separated from their male counterparts, just as they had since founding a women's auxiliary to the NBC in 1900, to conduct the business of the Woman's Convention.41 With less than two months before the elections, Burroughs distilled for her audience the primary issue of the campaign: "The test in this campaign is a test of the strength of the amendments to the Constituti[o]n." She explained the full and foreboding meaning of placing in the executive office an individual who favored the repeal of a constitutional amendment: "If the eighteenth amendment is not strong enough to stand, if we vote men into office who sanction its modification or annulment, we might as well sign the death certificate of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments." Burroughs urged her audience, "Do not vote any man into power who proposes to tamper with the Constitution of the United States." She added, "do not forget that the party which Governor Smith represents did not help to write your rights into the Constitution and it should not therefore be given an opportunity to tamper with them."42

Black Republican men also warned that repealing the Eighteenth Amendment threatened the Reconstruction Amendments. For example, Republican Illinois State Senator Aldelbert H. Roberts made such an argument before those attending one of the mixed-gender sessions of the NBC's 1928 Kentucky conference.43 Although Republican men and women employed similar campaign rhetoric, the gendered assumptions that connected temperance with women's ability to perform traditional domestic roles continued to inform black Republican rhetoric on repeal among both men and women. In a 1928 article, for instance, Howard sociologist Kelly Miller insisted that "Intemperance, which if chiefly a masculine vice, falls heaviest upon [a woman] and her dependent children." The family stability that women reformers valued, Miller suggested, would be threatened if liquor were made legal again: "When the husband divides his pay envelope between her and the saloon, she is apt to receive the minor share. Family distress and domestic unhappiness are certain to ensue." As a result, he argued, "Every woman who votes against the eighteenth amendment votes against her sex." In Miller's view, however, the potential ramifications of the election for the future of not only the Reconstruction Amendments, but also the stability of black domestic life, placed a much heavier responsibility on black women than white women. "Any colored woman who votes against [the Eighteenth Amendment]," Miller insisted, "votes against both, her race and her sex."44

In 1928, the prohibition planks put forth by "dry" Republicans and "wet" Democrats at the national level concealed significant internal disputes that each party had precariously contained for years with platforms that avoided the issue and presidential candidates who artfully dodged it. On [End Page 74] the eve of the 1928 elections, Kelly Miller characterized for readers of the black, Chicago-based newspaper, The Light and Heebie Jeebies, some of the regional differences that were tenuously contained within each major party: "The Democratic party in the South is Protestant and dry, while in the North it is Catholic and wet." The Republican Party was no less divided along regional lines. Republicans in the West, Miller explained, generally favored prohibition and opposed repeal, while those in the East were "wet."45 Yet even Miller's summary masks a web of Republican and Democratic views on prohibition that were defined by, but also criss-crossed, allegiances of region, race, class, and gender. Black Republican women navigated these complicated allegiances with black Democrats, the Republican Party's lily-white orientation, and their own gendered claims to race leadership in mind.

Republican women's support of prohibition was hardly representative of all African Americans—quite the opposite. The results of an April 1919 election indicate how significant opposition to prohibition ran in black Chicago. The April 1919 ballot included a measure to begin prohibition in the city early. Chicago's most heavily black populated wards offered little support for embarking on prohibition any earlier than absolutely necessary. In the Second, Third, and Fourth Wards, only 22, 43, and 13 percent of women who cast a ballot in the April election did so in favor of the early introduction of prohibition. Even fewer men cast a ballot in favor of early introduction; the percentages were 16, 26, and 9 percent, respectively. In other words, if this limited support for the early enforcement of prohibition was any indicator of black views on the Eighteenth Amendment, then the vast majority of black voters in Chicago objected to the Eighteenth Amendment.46

Black opposition to prohibition was grounded in several sources. First, the southern white prohibitionist's explicit role in black disfranchisement, the enactment of Jim Crow legislation, and numerous acts of racially motivated violence created resentment among southern blacks. In the South, the drive to disfranchise black men was closely intertwined with local option campaigns. Southern white prohibitionists asserted that the "black vote was wet and hopelessly corrupted by liquor interests" and therefore needed to be eliminated if local option elections were to succeed.47 Southern white prohibitionists also employed stereotypes of drunken black men who threatened the sexual purity of white womanhood in the service of legislating temperance.48 This argument, for instance, gained renewed currency in the aftermath of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. The riot itself was sparked by newspaper reports of black men sexually assaulting white women. Claims that, as one man from western Georgia put it, "Atlanta would not have had a race riot had it not been for low grogshops, and Negroes full of rum and [End Page 75] dope," then drove the local option campaign that resulted in the 1907 State Prohibition Act. A statewide ban of liquor was necessary, white prohibitionists argued, in order to protect white women from such indignities.49 It is quite possible that many African Americans responded to these assaults on their personal and political liberties by associating alcohol consumption with the defiance of Jim Crow.50 This would hold true for those who remained under the yoke of southern white supremacy, as well as the tens of thousands of southern blacks who relocated to the Midwest and Northeast precisely because they sought greater expression of personal liberty.

Migrants who sought to express their personal liberty through liquor consumption had plenty of opportunities to do so in the vibrant leisure districts that awaited them in the urban North. In Chicago, for example, the stretch of State Street between 26th and 39th Streets that was known as "the Stroll" offered a veritable menu of amusements: movie theaters, vaudevilles, restaurants, nightclubs, gambling and pool halls, saloons, and after 1919, "speakeasies."51 Migrants' participation in this leisure culture was a kind of nose thumbing toward the mean-spirited claims of southern white prohibitionists. But it was also a direct rejection of women reformers' racial uplift demands that migrants, especially migrant women, display modesty in their new surroundings.

There were also economic motivations for opposing prohibition. In the years before the Eighteenth Amendment, legal establishments that sold liquor—saloons, dance halls, pool halls—were sources of revenue for a significant number of African Americans.52 By 1900 Chicago claimed forty-eight black-owned saloons, and black business directories sometimes included saloon owners in their brief sketches about self-made men—a familiar self-help narrative that ironically was driven by the sale of liquor. According to one estimate, 12 percent of black men in Chicago were employed in both black and white-owned saloons and poolrooms in 1914.53 Working-class African Americans also created their own leisure institutions that helped to make ends meet. Some periodically turned their homes into make-shift saloons or transformed rented storefronts into occasional nightclubs.54

Then there was the revenue generated by the whole micro-economy of vice that revolved around the world of the saloon, pool hall, dancehall, and, after 1919, the "speakeasy." Gambling, prostitution, and, after 1919, the illegal sale of liquor fueled this informal economy that was centered in the predominantly black neighborhoods of cities like Chicago, New York, and Detroit. During the 1900s and 1910s, anti-prostitution reform in such cities drove this micro-economy out of white or mixed-race areas and more deeply into segregated black neighborhoods.55 The Eighteenth Amendment only invigorated the growth of such vice districts in black neighborhoods throughout the nation.56 Reformers lamented the concentration of vice [End Page 76] districts in black neighborhoods. One NACW president urged members to "march an army of protest to the City Hall and battle for the strength and purity of your sons and daughters."57 This informal economy, however, was an important source of revenue for poor African Americans who eked out a marginal existence. This was especially the case for African American women, many of them new arrivals from the South, who encountered very limited job opportunities.58

The UNIA's opposition to the Eighteenth Amendment was grounded precisely in the recognition that prohibition fuelled this vice economy. Garveyite women shared clubwomen's disapproval of liquor. Unlike club-women, however, Garveyites argued that the end of prohibition, not its continuation, offered the greatest opportunity for the protection of black homes and rights. In a 1924 editorial in "Our Women and What They Want," the women's page of the UNIA organ the Negro World, a Garveyite who went by the pseudonym "Disgusted" complained about the negative effects of the Eighteenth Amendment: "Homes and districts, that once knew not the woes of licensed drinks, are now the producers and protectors of this illegal and illicit trade. Thousands of men, with loving wives and dear little children, who did not drink nor did they contact others who drank, are now manufacturers of all the forms of 'hootch.'"59 Four years later, the Negro World continued to lament the havoc that the Eighteenth Amendment had wrought on black homes, and identified Alfred Smith's candidacy as a means by which African Americans might help extricate their communities from prohibition-fueled vice and violence. As a July 1928 Negro World editorial calling for Smith's election argued, "In Harlem, the greatest vice is not 'playing the numbers,' not the cabarets, not the debauchery of young womanhood, but Prohibition." "The corner saloon and the evils it bred" prior to the Eighteenth Amendment, the editorial declared, "were a sacrificial altar compared with the degradations of the apartment-speakeasy."60

Republican women justifiably feared that black opposition to prohibition—originating from patronage of illicit nightclubs, reliance on the informal economy, and outrage over white abuses—created the potential for a voting bloc that included white northern Democrats and black voters. It was this fear that lay behind the "Prohibition Issue as a Smoke Screen" pamphlet's stern warnings about the interdependency of northern and southern white Democrats: "Don't fool yourself, Colored voters! Al Smith may be a fine fellow, but: Al Smith in New York is not Al Smith in the White House. Al Smith is only one man—the standard bearer of a party, the majority of whom are Southern Democrats." Here the Colored Women's Department of the RNC was calling attention to the fact that as a northern Democrat, Smith was a minority in his own party. Smith, the pamphlet's author(s) suggested, was merely a northern front for southern Democrats. [End Page 77] As the pamphlet explained, "If he is elected, the solid South will gain control of the Government."61

From the perspective of black Republican women, black opposition to the Eighteenth Amendment threatened much more than black support for the Republican Party. The very same women who were leading the charge in the Republican Party also faced mounting challenges to their longstanding claims to race leadership through racial uplift politics. Women reformers had promised to lead the race out of the nadir, but still three decades after they had proclaimed the beginning of the "woman's era," institutionalized racism remained very much intact.62 Black support of local option campaigns and the Eighteenth Amendment had neither undermined racist stereotypes nor reversed disfranchisement. Nor from the UNIA's perspective had the Eighteenth Amendment eliminated an "arch enemy of the home," as the NACW had promised in 1918. The Eighteenth Amendment, the UNIA asserted, had merely forced respectable families to live in close proximity to underworld characters.63 Marcus Garvey was among a panoply of New Negro male leaders who "made race progress dependent on virile masculinity." 64 So when the Negro World editors denounced Hoover for supporting an amendment that "is vitiating the home-life of Negroes," they did so with a distinctly gendered understanding of home protection in mind, one that emphasized men's responsibility to physically defend black homes from white violence.65 In this context, UNIA opposition to the Eighteenth Amendment was a not so subtle rejection of women reformers' claims that they knew best how to protect the black home.

Black participation in urban leisure culture and the underground economy that typically accompanied it further undermined women reformers' claims to race leadership. African Americans, and especially black women, who enjoyed the sexually charged atmosphere and liquor-fuelled establishments of Chicago's Stroll, for instance, rejected racial uplift's demands of modesty. In so doing, they also expanded the boundaries of acceptable behavior for black women and fed into the "new morality" of the 1920s that celebrated a degree of sexual frankness, which was epitomized in the figure of the blues woman who inhabited the Stroll's nightclubs. Indeed, historian Victoria Wolcott has demonstrated that the very definition of appropriate behavior, often referred to as respectability, took on new meanings among the working poor in Detroit during the 1920s. African Americans blurred the lines between reputable and disreputable behavior when they produced illegal alcohol and ran gambling rings in the backrooms of legitimate businesses, or when women supplemented meager domestic wages by working as prostitutes. The wages generated by such illicit leisure work, Wolcott has argued, funded reputable community institutions, including [End Page 78] churches, and enabled men and women who were struggling financially to provide for their families.66

Deborah Gray White has demonstrated that in the face of such challenges to their leadership, NACW activists resisted adjusting their reform agenda, choosing instead to hang onto their commitment to racial uplift ideology ever more fervently. As White has argued, "Moral purity and socially correct behavior became even more of a crusade than in the pre-war years."67 With prohibition politics so deeply implicated in women's self-mandate to instill temperance, thrift, and modesty among poor African Americans, it is perhaps no surprise, then, that this retrenchment in racial uplift ideology spilled into their partisanship. Indeed, these women's dogged commitment to the Eighteenth Amendment in the face of evidence that prohibition fueled vice in black neighborhoods needs to be understood as a manifestation of this retrenchment within the realm of party politics.

This blending of constitutional and racial uplift rhetoric was evident when middle-class Republican women berated African Americans who would, as they portrayed Democratic voting, put their desire for liquor before the Reconstruction Amendments. In an October letter, Wells-Barnett reported to RNC Publicity Director Claude Barnett (no relation) on the women's Hoover-Curtis clubs she helped establish in ten Illinois counties. These clubs, she explained, "are doing their bit by showing the unthinking masses that Al Smith cannot carry out his pledge to modify or annul the Volstead Law; and that if he could do so, it would open the door for the Democratic Party to try to repeal or modify other amendments to the Constitution—amendments which vitally affect the Negro more than any other group of our citizens, the 14th & 15th amendments which gave our race liberty and citizenship." Here Wells-Barnett's cogent constitutional arguments bled seamlessly into her assumption that the majority of African Americans were capricious in their decisions to vote the Democratic ticket or that such a choice resulted from a weakness for alcohol. The "unthinking masses," Wells-Barnett's letter suggested, needed middle-class Republican women's guidance on at least two counts: they needed instruction on how to behave properly and how to vote properly. As part of this instruction, Wells-Barnett told her audiences, "This time the wolf in sheep's clothing is spending money like water to hire our folks in the Democratic camp." She promised, however, that "very few of them are going to betray our race for 30 pieces of silver, or, for the prospect of a drink of liquor."68 Myrtle Foster Cook similarly asserted in a letter she distributed to Missouri voters from the Western Division Headquarters of the RNC: "Now some of our foolish voters want to put Democrats in the White House. Misled by a mess of pottage. It is positively alarming!"69 Here was the language of moral [End Page 79] weakness, self-injury, and race betrayal that equated black authenticity and loyalty with opposition to liquor. In 1928, these women applied to black Democrats, women and men, the suffrage and racial uplift critique once reserved for black men—that men were willing to sell their hardwon voting rights for a small price.70 In so doing, they muddied the cogency of their constitutional observation with a reformist rhetoric that was in decline and, in turn, undermined the appeal of their constitutional argument for attracting skeptical voters to the Republican Party.

By equating black support for Smith with the political self-injury of vote selling or the moral self-injury of liquor consumption, Republican women downplayed, if not dismissed, the very legitimate reasons that scores of black voters cast their lot with Smith in 1928. The evidence suggests that opposition to prohibition did fuel some black support for the Democratic Party in 1928. For the average black voter—as well as several prominent leaders including Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Bessye Bearden, and Amy Jacques Garvey—the primary issue that drove them toward the Democratic Party in 1928, however, was the sense that the Republican Party did not represent black Americans. Republican women privately acknowledged as much. Nannie Helen Burroughs also privately recognized that the liberalization of liquor laws was not the primary issue attracting black voters to the Democratic Party. Burroughs, who had so eloquently articulated the constitutional implications of repeal to the Woman's Convention of the NBC in September, informed her Republican colleagues toward the close of the campaign that "Negroes will not vote for Smith because he is wet." As she explained in her final report following a month-long speaking tour, the black voters she encountered "want to be sure that they are voting against the Klan, and they know the Klan is against Smith." "They are not for Smith," she clarified, "but they are against the Klan."71 In other words, black support for the Democratic Party derived from anti-Klan sentiment—the recognition that Smith, the first Catholic to run for president, and African Americans shared a common enemy in the KKK—rather than an active anti-prohibition agenda. Made in the final weeks of the campaign, Burroughs's observations did not make their way into black Republican women's campaign rhetoric. To eliminate discussion of the Eighteenth Amendment from their canvassing efforts would have undermined a key opportunity to refocus national attention on the Reconstruction Amendments. It might also signal a concession that women's moral expertise in battling intemperance was no longer needed.

In 1928, black Republican women won the battle, but lost the war. In the short term, Herbert Hoover won the election, and the Eighteenth Amendment remained part of the Constitution for another five years until the Twenty-first Amendment ended national prohibition by repealing the [End Page 80] Eighteenth Amendment. While Republican women achieved their short-term goals, they became increasingly embattled politically. To audiences comprised of those who enjoyed the vibrant leisure culture offered at locations like Chicago's Stroll, middle-class women's use of racial uplift rhetoric must have sounded antiquated. Black Republican women were already in the difficult position of defending a party that many African Americans perceived to be, at best, out of touch with the needs of black Americans and, at worst, totally indifferent. To then blend their defense of the Republican Party with a reformist rhetoric that sounded out of step with the cultural transformations that had taken place in urban black communities was to call into question not only the Republican Party's relevance, but even more foreboding, these women's own claims to represent the race within party politics.

Lisa G. Materson

Lisa G. Materson is assistant professor of history at the University of California at Davis. She is the author of the forthcoming book, For the Freedom of Her Race: Black Women and Electoral Politics in Illinois, 1877-1932 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009).


1. "The Prohibition Issue as a Smoke Screen," [n.d.], box 334, folder 1, Claude A. Barnett Papers, Chicago Historical Society, Illinois, hereafter Barnett Papers.

2. Nancy J. Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln: Black Politics in the Age of FDR (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), 10.

3. Among the several studies on the history of repeal, some of the most significant include David E. Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979); Thomas Pegram, Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800–1933 (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998); Sean Dennis Cashman, Prohibition: The Lie of the Land (New York: The Free Press, 1981); and Norman H. Clark, Deliver Us From Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1976). Kyvig offers a paragraph on the relationship between repeal and voter trends in the 1920s and 1930s, but does not specifically address black voting patterns: Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 201. The two classic treatments of the black voting realignment remain Nancy J. Weiss, Farewell to the Party of Lincoln; and Harvard Sitkoff, A New Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue, The Depression Decade (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978).

4. Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy A Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894–1994 (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1999), 129–30.

5. White, Too Heavy A Load, 22–24, 27–37; Michele Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 9–10, 12, 80, 141–42, 152, 168–69, 172. Also see Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro American Woman Novelist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), for a discussion of black women's literary expressions of "woman's era" philosophy. For a full discussion of the complexities of racial uplift ideology, see Kevin K. Gaines, Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). [End Page 81]

6. White, Too Heavy A Load, 36–37.

7. Wells discusses her heated exchanges with Willard in chapters fifteen and twenty-five of her autobiography. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, ed. Alfreda M. Duster (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 209. For a more detailed analysis of the controversy, see Patricia A. Schechter, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), chap. 3.

8. Ida B. Wells, "Symposium—Temperance," AME Church Review 7, no. 4 (1891): 380.

9. Cashman, Prohibition, 246–47; Frances Watkins Harper, "Work Among Colored People," in Minutes of the NWCTU (Seventeenth Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, 14–18 November 1890), 218–19.

10. "The Following is the Very Excellent Paper Which Was Read by Miss Anna Duncan, President of the State Federation of Alabama," National Notes 3, no. 12 (1900): 3, in Records of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, 1895–1992, part 1, Minutes of National Conventions, Publications, and President's Office Correspondence, ed. Lillian Serece Williams and Randolph Boehm (Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America), microfilm, hereafter NACW Papers.

11. Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 10–13; K. Austin Kerr, Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 192–93, 198–99; Party Platforms of 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924, and 1928, in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–1967, vol. 3, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1971), 2167–2203, 2271–2293, 2387–2427, 2500, 2507, 2621, 2637.

12. "Minutes of the Ninth Biennial Convention of the National Association of Colored Women, 1914," 40–41, NACW Papers; "N. A. Colored Women's Convention," National Notes 17, no. 2 (1914): 3; Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, Lifting As They Climb (1933; repr., New York: G.K. Hall, 1996), 35–36; Monen L. Gray to Hallie Quinn Brown, 11 January 1921, Hallie Quinn Brown Papers, Hallie Q. Brown Memorial Library, Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio.

13. "Editorials," National Notes 17, no. 4 (1915): 10.

14. Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 10; Pegram, Battling Demon Rum, 146–48.

15. "Minutes of the Eleventh Biennial Convention of the National Association of Colored Women, 1918," 54, NACW Papers.

16. "Minutes of the Twelfth Biennial Convention of the National Association of Colored Women, 1920," 55, NACW Papers.

17. Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863–1877 (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1990), 195, 234.

18. Eva Wright, "Our Women Take Part in Suffrage Memorial Ceremonies," The Competitor 3, no. 2 (1921): 31. [End Page 82]

19. Arthur Twining Hadley, "Law Making and Law Enforcement," Harper's Magazine, November 1925, 645–46; Fletcher B. Dobyns, The Amazing Story of Repeal: An Exposé of the Power of Propaganda (Chicago: Willet, Clark and Co., 1940), 343. For other contemporary pieces that couched their opposition to the Eighteenth Amendment and plans for circumventing it in the racially exclusive rhetoric of states' rights and white supremacy, see Fabian Franklin, What Prohibition Has Done to America (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), and Charles Hanson Towne, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition: The Human Side of What the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act Have Done to the United States (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1923).

20. M. E. Burrell, "Citizenship Department: Sane, Sensible, Practical, Aggressive Work in New Jersey," National Notes 26, no. 1 (1924): 7.

21. "Minutes of the Fourteenth Biennial Convention of the National Association of Colored Women, August 3–8, 1924, Held at Chicago, Illinois," 19, NACW Papers. Reference to the Nineteenth Amendment in the original document is a typographical error.

22. Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 61–62, 69–70.

23. "Minutes of the Fifteenth Biennial Convention of the National Association of Colored Women, 1926," 45, NACW Papers.

24. "Rhode Island 23rd Annual Convention," National Notes 29, no. 9 (1927): 7.

25. "Editorials: Amendments to the Constitution," National Notes 28, no. 8 (1926): 4.

26. Kenneth David Rose, American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 116; Richard O'Connor, The First Hurrah: A Biography of Alfred E. Smith (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1970), 196.

27. A "Colored Women's Division" in the RNC operated as early as the 1916 presidential election. "Women's Headquarters," Chicago Defender, 21 October 1916, 9. For the foundational treatment of the history of the NLRCW, see Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham's article, "In Politics to Stay," in Women, Politics, and Change, ed. Louise A. Tilly and Patricia Gurin (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1990).

28. The NLRCW's founders were all NACW members who had excused themselves from the NACW's fourteenth biennial convention in order to create the Republican organization. The continuing NACW presence in the NLRCW in 1928 was evident in the fact that all twelve of the NLRCW's executive officers were leading NACW activists. "Minutes of the Temporary Organization of the National League of Republican Colored Women," [n.d.], box 309, Nannie Helen Burroughs Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington DC, hereafter Burroughs Papers; Nannie Helen Burroughs to Mrs. Alvin T. Hert, 14 January 1928, box 37, Burroughs Papers; Davis, Lifting As They Climb, 32–40, 113, 163–65, 198, 245–46, 264–65, 267–68, 397; "America Must Mean Equal Training and Opportunity for All," The Competitor 3, no. 3 (1921): 26; National Notes 27, no. 4 (1925): 5. [End Page 83]

29. John D. Hicks, Republican Ascendancy: 1921–1933 (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1960), 50, 66, 69–73, 232; Richard B. Sherman, The Republican Party and Black America: From McKinley to Hoover, 1896–1933 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1973), 83–85, 153–60, 230, 237–40.

30. "Republican Colored Women Hold Three Day Session Behind Closed Doors," [1928], box 309, Burroughs Papers; "Organization of the Colored Women's Department Under the Republican National Committee 1924," National Notes 27, no. 3 (1924): 2; Jo Freeman, A Room at a Time: How Women Entered Party Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 188.

31. "G.O.P. Women Meet 3 Days At Capital," Baltimore Afro-American [May 1928], box 324, Burroughs Papers.

32. "Republican Colored Women Hold Three Day Session Behind Closed Doors," [1928], box 309, Burroughs Papers.

33. National League of Republican Colored Women to Mrs. Mabel Willebrandt, 4 August 1928, box 21, Burroughs Papers.

34. "Summary of Report by (Miss) Nannie H. Burroughs, Washington, DC," box 309, Burroughs Papers.

35. Julian D. Rainey to Mr. S. D. Brooks, 3 October 1928, box 24, Burroughs Papers; Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto, Negro New York, 1890–1930 (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 169.

36. Jean B. Hutson, "Bearden, Bessye (c. 1891–1943)," in Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, ed. Darlene Clark Hine et al. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 97–98.

37. Gaines, Uplifting the Race, 210–11; "Two Dyer Bill Opponents Not Reelected," Chicago Whip, 18 November 1922, 1; Alice Dunbar-Nelson, "Politics in Delaware," Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life 2, no. 23 (1924): 339; Gloria T. Hull, ed., The Works of Alice Dunbar Nelson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), lix; "Why I Am A Democrat in 1924," series III.4, box 22, folder 418, Papers of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

38. "Mrs. B. J. Bearden Thrills Hearers," Chicago Defender, 28 October 1928, 2.

39. Alice Dunbar-Nelson, "The Negro Woman and the Ballot," The Messenger 9, no. 4 (1927): 111.

40. "Democratic Meet Draws Large Crowd," Chicago Defender, 20 October 1928, 2; "Philadelphia Pays Fine Tribute to Mrs. Garvey, Back from Europe," Negro World, 10 November 1928; Ula Yvette Taylor, The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 103–5.

41. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 2, 8. [End Page 84]

42. "Baptist Women Hear Plea For Hoover," [1928], newspaper clippings, box 338, folder 4, Barnett Papers.

43. "Says Baptists Must Stick," [1928], newspaper clippings, source unidentified, box 338, folder 3, Barnett Papers.

44. Kelly Miller, "Kelly Miller Says: Wet or Dry?" The Light and Heebie Jeebies, 4 (December 1927): 12–13.

45. Ibid., 12.

46. Cashman, Prohibition, 23; Joel H. Goldstein, The Effects of the Adoption of Woman Suffrage: Sex Differences in Voting Behavior—Illinois, 1914–21 (New York: Praeger, 1984), 168–69. These percentages are rounded. Harold F. Gosnell, "How Negroes Vote in Chicago," National Municipal Review 22, no. 5 (1933): 242.

47. Denise Herd, "The Paradox of Temperance: Blacks and the Alcohol Question in Nineteenth Century America," in Drinking: Behavior and Belief in Modern History, ed. Susanna Barrows and Robin Room (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 78; Denise Herd, "Prohibition, Racism and Class Politics in the Post Reconstruction South," Journal of Drug Issues 13, no. 1 (1983): 85–88; Joseph H. Cartwright, The Triumph of Jim Crow: Tennessee Race Relations in the 1880s (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976), 202–8, 210–12; Cashman, Prohibition, 246–47; Vernon Lane Wharton, The Negro in Mississippi, 1865–1890 (1947; repr., New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 207–8.

48. Herd, "Paradox of Temperance," 367–68; Herd, "Prohibition, Racism and Class Politics," 78.

49. Columbus Enquirer-Sun, 29–30 December 1906, quoted in Max O'Neal, "The 1907 Georgia Prohibition Act" (MA thesis, Georgia Southern College, 1974), 47–48n9; O'Neal, "The 1907 Georgia Prohibition Act," 42, 57–59, 68, 87, 95; Charles Crowe, "Racial Violence and Social Reform-Origins of the Atlanta Riot of 1906," The Journal of Negro History 53, no. 3 (1968): 251.

50. Herd, "Paradox of Temperance," 368–71.

51. Davarian L. Baldwin, Chicago's New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 22, 25, 44–49, 92; William Howland Kenney, Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History, 1904–1930 (New York: Oxford, 1993), 9, 15, 18.

52. Perry R. Duis, The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 1880–1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 157–59; Kevin J. Mumford, Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 20, 22–27, 35.

53. Duis, The Saloon, 157–59.

54. Mumford, Interzones, 20–27. [End Page 85]

55. Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 95.

56. Mumford, Interzones, 20–27, 35; Baldwin, Chicago's New Negroes, 46.

57. "N.A. Colored Women's Convention," National Notes 17, no. 2 (1914): 5.

58. Walter C. Reckless, Vice in Chicago (1933; repr., Montclair, NJ: Patterson Smith, 1969), 31; Chicago Commission on Race Relations, Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922), 331–32; Wolcott, Remaking Respectability, 110–11, 113.

59. "Prohibition Looms Up As Home-Wrecker," Negro World, 31 May 1924, 10.

60. "Prohibition," Negro World, 7 July 1928, 4.

61. "The Prohibition Issue as a Smoke Screen," [n.d.], box 334, folder 1, Barnett Papers.

62. White, Too Heavy A Load, 37, 120.

63. "Prohibition Looms Up As Home-Wrecker," Negro World, 31 May 1924, 10; "Prohibition," Negro World, 7 July 1928, 4.

64. White, Too Heavy A Load, 124.

65. "To The Polls For Smith," Negro World, 3 November 1928, 4; chapter four of Victoria Wolcott's Remaking Respectability examines this rhetoric of masculine self-defense during the 1920s.

66. White, Too Heavy a Load, 124–28; Wolcott, Remaking Respectability, 93–103, 110, 113, 130.

67. White, Too Heavy A Load, 128–30.

68. Ida B. Wells-Barnett to Claude Barnett, 21 October 1928, box 333, folder 5, Barnett Papers.

69. Myrtle Foster Cook to Dear Friend, [1928], box 334, folder 1, Barnett Papers.

70. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850–1920 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 59, 68.

71. "Summary of Report by (Miss) Nannie H. Burroughs, Washington, DC," box 309, Burroughs Papers. [End Page 86]

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