Suffragette: The Battle for Equality

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
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Release Date
October 08, 2019
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Imprisonment, hunger strikes, suffrajitsu — the decades-long fight for women’s right to vote was at times a ferocious one. Acclaimed artist David Roberts gives these important, socially transformative times their due in a colorfully illustrated history that includes many of the important faces of the movement in portraiture and scenes that both dignify and enliven. He has created a timely and thoroughly engaging resource in his first turn as nonfiction author-illustrator. Suffragette: The Battle for Equality follows the trajectory of the movement in the U.K. and visits some key figures and moments in the United States as it presents the stories of Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, and many more heroic women and men — making it a perfect gift for young readers of today. Dr. Crystal Feimster of Yale’s Department of African American Studies contributes a foreword that speaks to the relationship and differences between the British and American suffrage efforts.

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While there are a number of excellent books about women's suffrage available, including Kops' Alice Paul, Zimet's Roses and Radicals, and Bausum's With Courage and Cloth, this book is a bit unusual-- it focuses more on the British movement to get women the vote. It does touch on some US movements and personalities, but the timeline is centered around the Women's Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst.

In the US, the women's movement ran into difficulties along racial lines, with African-American participants often being told to keep quiet or go to the back of the parade. It is noteworthy to see African-American women's leaders mentioned, and this would be a great book for students looking to do a National History Day project on someone who has not previously been studied as much. In the UK, the movement ran into more problems along class lines, since the population was not quite as diverse in the early 1900s. I expect that we will see more books that include different voices, and this one is a good start.
Good Points
Following the different movements, protests, and people chronologically, Suffragette paints an easily understandable trajectory of events. I wasn't aware that the women's movement in the UK was so violent! There's lots of rock throwing, glass breaking, and even jujitsu! My favorite part of this, however, is the large number of thumbnail biographies that accompany the well done illustrations of the historical characters.

There is a very nice bibliography at the end of the book that will get readers started on other books. With it's nicely formatted page design and attractive, colorful drawings, Suffragette is definitely a book that will get young feminists informed about the past so that they can make a difference in the future.
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