Presentation to AAUW meeting focuses on women’s suffrage movement, Harriet Tubman

In February 2022, I was invited to make a presentation to the annual diversity brunch hosted by the Rockland County (NY) chapter of the American Association of University of Women. There were about 150 people on the Zoom call. While the focus of the presentation was my family history research, I used the occasion to highlight some of the Black women who (along with my great grandmother Addie Jackson and great aunt Beatrice Jackson) helped win voting rights for women in New York state in 1917. Those women included Empire State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs leaders and activists Mary B. Talbert, Maria C. Lawton and Minnie Brown.

I also shared background, including newspaper articles, on the significant role that the women’s federation played in caring for Harriet Tubman during the last years of her life. In addition to her other contributions, Tubman was an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage.

Paying Tribute to a Remarkable and Talented Aunt

In recognition of Women’s History Month 2017, I wrote this post about my great aunt, Beatrice Jackson Conway. Like her mother, “Momma Addie” Jackson, my aunt was a leader with the Empire State Federation of Colored Women’s Club, whose motto was “Lifting As We Climb.” In 1917, Aunt Beatrice was an election poll watcher at a school in Harlem, NY for the Suffrage Party (see card below). That was the watershed election that eventually led to women winning the right to vote. An excellent writer, Aunt Beatrice had several letters published in the Tarrytown Daily News. She was also a soloist with the choir at Mother Zion A.M.E. Church in Harlem. Aunt Beatrice did all this and more by the age of 27, when she passed away due to complications from childbirth.beatrice graphic2

Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill! Momma Addie is Smiling.

tubman billMy great grandmother, Addie Jackson (or Momma Addie), knew Harriet Tubman. At least I’m pretty sure she did. Here’s why I say that. In the last years of her life, Tubman lived in Auburn, NY, where she’s buried, and her primary caretakers were members of the Empire State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. Momma Addie was the financial secretary of the club at the time.Scan0219

The Tubman biography, “Bound for the Promised Land,” says this about the club’s care for Tubman when she was “penniless and ill” at about 90 years old: “Through the efforts of Mary Talbert (the group’s president), the Empire State Women’s Clubs also helped raise funds for Tubman’s care…”

The same biography also says this about Talbert’s relationship with Tubman: “Mary Talbert recalled her last visit with Tubman, about a month before her death. Tubman grasped her hand as she was about to leave, urging her to ‘tell the women to stand together for God will never forsake us.’ ”