Progressive Era Activism
Portrait of African American educator, activist, and clubwoman, Selena Sloan Butler, in 1898.
Courtesy of Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, Selena Sloan Butler papers.
Headline announcing a mass meeting of colored women's clubs in the southeastern coastal town of Brunswick. Women discussed the strides they were making in racial uplift work, particularly in education. The Brunswick News, July 8, 1922, p. 6.
Courtesy of Georgia Newspaper Project, Georgia Historic Newspapers.
Photograph of southern white Progressive politician, lecturer, and reformer, Rebecca Latimer Felton, in 1880. Felton gave multiple speeches speaking out against the convict lease system leading up to its abolition in 1908.
Courtesy of Atlanta History Center, Atlanta History Photograph Collection.
Sickened by the lynchings, mob violence, race riots, restrictive laws, and forced labor practices that jeopardized Black lives and civil rights, prominent African American leaders like Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Georgia's Selena Sloan Butler advocated for prison reform.
In local and national women’s club chapters, African American clubwomen spearheaded campaigns for reform. Led by Georgia native Selena Sloan Butler, the Atlanta Women’s Club, in tandem with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, sent prayer cards and Bibles to male and female prisoners. Butler continued to advocate for prison reform following the abolition of the convict lease system. The Georgia Commission on Interracial Cooperation, an alliance of white and Black women’s clubs across Georgia, secured a Black female jailer to attend the women’s department in a Savannah jail in 1925.