Ain’t I a Woman 2 by Laura Roosevelt

Artist Statement

The idea of doing a 19th amendment piece excited me knowing that it would fit into my Historic American Pop Collection. With high interest, I began to research for inspiration. I was a bit taken back when I learned that only 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 and it took another 64 years until that last state finally ratified it in 1984. I must admit, my discoveries put me into a different direction.

I concentrated on doing a painting that begins in 1920 with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and ends in 1965 with the Civil Rights Amendment.

As with all the pieces of my HAPcollection, I used one of my abstract paintings as the background. I over laid bricks and came up with a depiction of city wall from the 1920’s.

My concept was to engrave on random bricks, dates and the names of many African American Women that worked to be included in the 19th amendment along with the states that did not ratify and their dates, when finally ratified. Engraved in the bricks will also be references to Jim Crow Laws and the 24th Amendment.

Highlighting the piece is a statement by Sojourner Truth delivered in 1851 to the Woman’s Rights Convention at the Old Stone Church in Akron, Ohio “Ain’t I A Woman?” I have taken the liberty to add the number two, with a hidden reference to today’s women advocacy of the “Me 2” movement. Also, as with all my HAP pieces there is an accompanying quote by either FDR or ER, selected by my sister Elizabeth Roosevelt Kelly, who serves on the board of the FDR library. Liz has also spear headed a program for girls about the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt for the ER Institute and is a scholar on Eleanor Roosevelt’s column My Day. In doing research about ER and the Woman’s Right’s movement the attached paper from GWU became informative in selecting this quote:

Brick Engravings
12 States that did not ratify the 19th Amendment until after August 26, 1920
• Vermont February 8, 1921
• Connecticut passed September 14, 1920 not ratified until July 16, 1970
• Delaware March 6, 1923
• Maryland passed March 29, 1941 not ratified until February 25, 1958
• Virginia February 21, 1952
• North Carolina May 6, 1961
• Georgia February 20, 1970
• Florida May 13, 1969
• Alabama September 8, 1953
• Mississippi March 22, 1984
• Louisiana June 11, 1970

Jim Crow and other Influences
• White Primary
• Poll Tax
• Literacy Tests
• The 24th Amendment in 1964
• The 26th Amendment in 1965

African American Suffragettes/Activists
• Mary McLeod Bethune
• Frances E. W. Harper
• Sojourner Truth
• Harriet Tubman
• Hallie Quin Brown
• Ida Wells
• Tandy Nixon
• Juanita Craft
• Lulu White
• Christia Adair

“Where after do human rights begin? In small places, close to home– so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
Eleanor Roosevelt – “Remarks at the United Nations,” March 27, 1958