The origins of our tagline, “Lift As You Climb,” goes back over a hundred years.
August 2020 marks 100 years since the ratification and passing of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. We praise Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony for their work as women suffragettes, but what many don’t know is that Black women were a large part of the women’s suffrage movement. These women, who fought to bring the right to vote to women, were still prohibited from voting, even after the 19th Amendment was passed. While Sojourner Truth, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Harriet Tubman, and Ida B. Wells fought for the cause, they were not able to participate in what they fought so hard for.
Many of these historical women were part of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), founded in 1896, which advocated for a wide range of reforms to improve life for Black Americans, including the suffrage movement. What started as several separate groups of women, including the National Federation of Colored Women’s Club and the National League of Colored Women, quickly became a solidified group of Black women working on civil rights and issues of injustice across the country, as the NACW.
NACW was backed by its motto – “Lifting as We Climb” – as the group advocated for women’s rights. These women understood the importance of the larger movement, even if they couldn’t yet celebrate their own victory. The members of the NACW were educators and social activists, and knew that by elevating their status, they could work to elevate the status of their community as a whole.
The historic efforts of women helping women and lifting them up is a powerful one.
Here at Mentor Spaces, our belief is we all need to continue to lift as we climb, especially in our current climate. This month’s historical moment, having the first Black female vice presidential nominee in a national political party, shows incredible progress and inclusion in our society, and we must think like the women of the early 1900s to come together towards a common goal.
Both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention recognized the powerful women that fought for the right to vote one hundred years ago. Kamala Harris even shone a light on the Black female pioneers that came before her during her DNC acceptance speech, praising the founding members of the NACW and their work in the women’s suffrage movement.
“This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. And we celebrate the women who fought for that right. Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification. But they were undeterred. Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed.”
The Mentor Spaces Vision
100 years later, we still believe “Lift As You Climb” is a powerful message, as we advocate for underrepresented talent and provide them with a platform where they can advance their careers by learning from the experience of others.
A person can’t be who they haven’t seen. Black and Latinx students and young professionals need the perspectives of mentors for guidance and direction as they start their careers.
We are carrying on the vision and mission of the first Black women who fought for what they believed in. We will continue to encourage professionals to “Lift As You Climb” as we close the network gap and make all workplaces diverse, inclusive and equitable while advancing and maximizing the careers of underrepresented minorities.