#IDAHOWOMEN100 Impact on Idaho's history made by women of color

Posted at 3:52 PM, Feb 11, 2020

Since suffrage passed, more opportunity exists, though women of color aren't always seen in the spotlight.

"You know, it's Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman, you think there are only five people in the whole morass of African Americans that are around," said Sen. Cherie-Buckner Webb (D-Boise),

"it's really important that we make a purposeful effort to understand people of color from all over the world who have contributed to the way things are now."

Women like Dr. Mamie Oliver are influential to our state's history.

"She's actually a preacher here as well, and her husband used to preach at this church when I was a child, and she was the first black tenured professor at Boise State University," said executive director of the Idaho State History Museum Phillip Thompson.

She was also the first to capture and collect Idaho's black history, specifically, and put it in a book.

"Nobody had done that before," said Thompson, "she's done a great job of collecting all these anecdotal and historical moments about black history in Idaho."

Other groups like the Athenian club contribute to Idaho's history. Their emphases was the pursuit of civil rights for women, especially women of color.

"Overall the population was so small you didn't have this organized, systematic institution aligned barrier to voting like you have in other states histories," said Thompson,

"you do have issues of other minorities being systemically left out, whether it be reservation life or there be a language issue."

Cherie's son runs the black history museum. Their family has been in Idaho since 1905, collecting the narratives and anecdotes from communities they grew with since.

"We were able to contact others and get their photos to get their information get their stories corroborated with other people and brought it all together, and here we are," said Thompson.

Suffrage continues to be a big success for women, and Buckner-Webb says it's important never to be complacent, but instead, use the history to propel all women forward.

"One of the things I love about my sisters, for example, is we don't necessarily expect the road to be easy, and when you look at women of color from the native communities, from the indigenous people," said Buckner-Webb,

"our road, our journey, has been one of trials, but it has been one of triumph too."

This centennial celebration of suffrage also falls during Black History Month. If you want to learn more about African American women and men who have contributed in significant ways to our state's history, the museum is an excellent place to start. To learn more about the Idaho Black History Museum, click here.

Every month over the next year, 6 On Your Side is sharing stories celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage.