The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was organized and led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The American Woman Suffrage Organization (AWSO) was formed by Lucy Stone and split from the NWSA over tactics, philosophy, and the issue of whether to support the Fifteenth Amendment, granting African American men the right to vote. Leaders of the NWSA felt they could not support the Fifteenth Amendment because it did not include provisions for women. After passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, the NWSA refused to allow any male leadership in their organization. After two decades, the two organizations combined their efforts to rally support for the cause and renamed their organization the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
In 1916 Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were frustrated with the slow movement of the NAWSA, and desired a more militant approach to gaining suffrage. They formed the National Woman’s Party which sought to accomplish their goals through the federal, instead of the state level. By picketing the White House and appealing to President Wilson, they were instrumental in securing passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in Congress.
Even though African American activists such as Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell actively promoted women’s rights, women of color were often excluded from national suffrage organizations and their activities. In 1896, a group of African American women founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), and suffragist, Mary Church Terrell became their first president. Their motto was “Lifting as We Climb.”