The Vote First-Look Clip: PBS Documentary on Black Women Being 'Moved to the Sidelines' of Suffrage Movement

The Vote (2020)
The Vote (2020)
Screenshot: Courtesy of PBS

2020 is a pivotal year for many reasons, one of those being that it’s a presidential election year. The discussion around voters’ rights and voter suppression have been recent hot topics, especially witnessing what has been happening in Kentucky as well as the ongoing push for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act.


Following the Fourth of July weekend in a timely broadcast and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, PBS is debuting American Experience: The Vote.

Per a press release sent to The Root:

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE The Vote, a new four-hour, two-part documentary series, tells the dramatic story of the epic — and surprisingly unfamiliar — crusade waged by American women for the right to vote. Focusing primarily on the movement’s militant and momentous final decade, the film charts American women’s determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path. The Vote delves deeply into the animating controversies that divided the nation in the early 20th century –– gender, race, state’s rights, and political power –– and offers an absorbing lesson in the delicate, often fractious dynamics of social change. Timed to the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote is narrated by Kate Burton and features the voices of Mae Whitman (Alice Paul), Audra McDonald (Ida B. Wells), Laura Linney (Carrie Chapman Catt) and Patricia Clarkson (Harriot Stanton Blatch) portraying some of the unsung warriors of the movement. Written, directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Michelle Ferrari and executive produced by Mark Samels and Susan Bellows, The Vote premieres Monday and Tuesday, July 6-7, 2020, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on PBS, and the PBS Video App. With funding from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the documentary is part of the PBS Trailblazers summer programming lineup honoring the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

In an exclusive clip obtained by The Root, the doc explores voter suppression and how it specifically affected immigrants and Black people in the South as well as the history behind the 15th Amendment and why the specific language mattered. Further, the doc delves into the racial discrimination within the Suffrage Movement, particularly Black women being “moved to the sidelines” and the denial of Black members.

Susan B. Anthony even reached out to Frederick Douglass urging him to stay away from a suffrage convention in Atlanta because his presence would “alienate potential supporters” despite his direct support of the movement.

In recent and related news, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has written a letter to Acting Chair Fred Bland of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission urging the city and Mayor de Blasio to recognize and protect landmark sites that have been considered key to the history of the civil rights movement for African Americans, the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the Supreme Court’s decision that applied civil rights protections to Americans within the LGBT community, as well as the 100th anniversary of the suffrage movement.

More info via a press release:

In addition to the sites where nation’s oldest and largest African American and LGBT civil rights groups began anti-lynching and anti-discrimination campaigns, and where New York’s women suffrage movement was headquartered, the buildings proposed for landmark designation also include the site of the very first integrated musical recordings ever made, the first recordings made by jazz singer Billie Holiday, and the personal printing house of feminist icon Anais Nin. City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, whose district covers several of the buildings, has also refused to support landmark designation (the remainder of the buildings are located in district of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who has pledged to support designation). Landmark designation of the buildings is supported by the NAACP and the National LGBTQ Task Force, among many others.


“At a time when we are seeking to recognize the value and contributions of African Americans, women, and the LGBT community, it is puzzling and frustrating that Mayor de Blasio, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Councilmember Rivera won’t support honoring and protecting these sites which are so crucial to the history of these groups and their struggles for equality. For two years we have been waging this campaign and are yet to see progress from these city officials. As we contemplate our country’s past and future during the July 4th holiday, it’s high time to honor and recognize these sites with landmark designation,” Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman said in a statement.

For more information on American Experience: The Vote, head to

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.