A woman's right to cast a vote moved 22 black women from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to join the suffrage march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. in 1913.
“It's just a delight to be a part of this historical event,” said Brenda Travis. “I think it was a brave move on their part to walk on Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Travis, a Delta Sigma Theta member, will re-enact the historic march dressed in period clothing in the sorority's colours of scarlet and cream on Sunday.
Before the newly-formed Howard University sorority was able to join the march they had to recruit a male employee of the school, T. Montgomery Gregory, the director of the dramatic club, to accompany them off campus.
“This was kind of letting the nation know women were interested in voting and not being excluded,” said Travis. “I do know there will be women from all over (to march) this coming Sunday. Not only sorority members, but they are also leaving it open to others who want to be a part of the march.”
“I think it makes it even more special for Mrs. Travis because Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who she is a great niece of, graduated from Howard University with her law degree making her one of the first black women to graduate law school,” said Blair Newby, curator of the Chatham-Kent Black Mecca Museum.
Travis said she will be reflecting on her ancestors who paved the way for her by taking a stand and breaking down barriers.
“Fifty years from now, when someone asks who was there they can check through and see my name,” said Travis. “I also walk with respect for her (Shadd) and my ancestors”
Although Shadd Cary graduated the school before the march happened, she continued to encourage black students to further their education at Howard and opened her home to board Chatham-Kent students.
Travis said the march re-enactment is part of the centennial celebrations for the sorority that champions economic and educational development, international and political awareness, along with physical and mental health.
“I'm already excited. I'm filled with pride in my sorority,” said Travis. “They've done so many wonderful things over the years.”
Travis, who flies out Thursday, hopes to capture the historic event with photographs, which she will donate the use of to Uncle Tom's Cabin, Buxton National Historical Site and the Chatham-Kent Black Mecca Museum.