How North Carolina failed its #MeToo moment – 100 years ago


The #MeToo movement of a century ago did not have a hashtag and did not involve sexual harassment in its narrowest sense. But it did involve women’s fight for dignity and equality. And it faced considerable opposition from men who found the idea of women involved in politics ludicrous, threatening, socialistic or against God’s plan.

One hundred years ago, voting in North Carolina was largely reserved for white men. Most black voters had been disenfranchised by literacy tests, and women were not permitted to vote or hold elective office, no matter how literate or educated. A woman who was a physician could not vote. A female school teacher could not vote. A mother who taught her sons how to read and write and think could not vote, even though her sons could.This is what passed as plain old common sense in my grandparents’ time.

There were progressive voices in North Carolina pushing to extend the franchise to women. The state Senate in 1918 passed a bill to allow women to vote in municipal elections, but it was killed in the state House.

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