As feminists became more organized in their fight for equality, black women became more of an afterthought, or worse, were purposely pushed out of the conversation. In 1848, there were no black women at all present at the Seneca Falls Convention for the Women's Suffrage Movement. A few years later at the Akron Conference, in 1851, Sojourner Truth was the only non-white women in attendance. Formerly enslaved, Truth was an abolitionist as well as a feminist. She had many informative speeches to give from a unique perspective, but she could not carry the load of all black women on her shoulders alone. When women of color did make it to the meetings, their concerns were often pushed aside. In 1899, an African-American woman, Lottie Jackson, faced harsh racial discrimination when traveling on a train to the National American Woman's Suffrage Association (NAWSA) meeting. Once she arrived, she asked famous feminist Susan B. Anthony to bring the transportation issues to the committee. She was quickly shut down and told they had no power to be giving orders to the railroads and it was not a matter for this convention. Susan B. Anthony is upheld through history teaching as an excellent example of a fierce woman who fought for equality, was friends with former enslaved man and activist Fredrick Douglas, and who championed for rights and the vote for women. However, when she had the chance to include all women in her scope, she shut them out time and time again. At one point, Anthony even asked Fredrick Douglas to not come to a meeting in Atlanta as she was afraid his presence would upset southern women. Though Douglas had been an honored guest at many suffrage meetings, at this point in his life a free man that stood up for women's equality, Anthony was more worried about keeping white women in the movement than standing up against racist reactions to her friend and supporter.
Feminist meetings progressed in their disdain for the inclusion of women of color in the following years. In 1900, the Gender Federal of Women's Club refused the one black woman who tried to enter as a delegate - Josephine Ruffin was sent away and not allowed to attend. If women of color could never enter the meetings where women's issues were discussed and responses to those inequalities were organized, it is no surprise that their voices were never heard and the forms of oppression they experienced went unrecognized. In 1903, the NAWSA meeting highlighted the racism among some of their ranks. Belle Kearney made a speech about how the only way to end the race war was to secure white supremacy in the country. She suggested achieving this by allowing women to vote, but keeping a literacy test and a land-ownership test at the polls. Essentially, her idea was to give women the vote and then find ways to block all non-white voters, to keep the political power in the hands of white families. There was not much more these women could have done to show the country that their fight for women's rights was a fight for white women's rights only. The racial segregation spread to other organizations, as well. In 1913, a suffrage parade asked any women of color who attended to separate themselves and to form their own parade. Ten years later, in 1923, the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) was formed, showing that many white women would align with their race to get ahead in society, abandoning non-white members of their gender.
As the movement advanced farther into the twentieth century, black women still continuously saw themselves being forgotten or intentionally pushed out to focus on the struggles of white women. In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote The Feminist Mystique, kicking off a new wave of feminism. Friedan's book challenged society's assumption that women would be fulfilled in their lives as wives and mothers, sticking to the home sphere and leaving careers and political power for men. Friedan was a force to be reckoned with in the feminist world, and encouraged many women to accept the fact that they could ask for more out of life. While she did amazing work for women, and has been remembered as a champion for feminism, even Friedan failed to mention women of color in her writings. Black women were not tired of being stuck in the home, because it was a luxury in which they rarely had access. A substantially higher number of black women than white had to work outside of their homes to support their families, often taking on domestic roles in the homes of white families. Whereas the nuclear family may have been a symbol of oppression to white women, it would have been freedom for most women of color to have the choice to stay at home. However, when the freedom of choice to work outside of the home was discussed, it rarely, if ever, included talks about solutions to allow women of color to be able to stay at home with their children.
The women's movement in the 1960s-1970s continued to be white-centric. At this point, many black women gave up hope of aligning themselves with a movement that did not want them involved. Instead, they tried to find their place within racial movements. By 1966, sixty percent of the Black Panther Party members were black women, and was only one of the groups fighting to end racism that women joined. However, they face obstacles in this realm as well. Where feminist groups thought race issues were a distraction from their cause, race groups tended to have men in power who thought gender issues should take a back seat to race issues.
The following decades were not much brighter in regards to hope for an inclusive feminist movement. In 1974, a white jailer raped Joan Little while she was serving her prison sentence. During the attack, she was able to secure a weapon and stab her rapist, killing him on the spot. Despite being found with his pants around his ankles and semen running down his thighs, Little was charged with his murder and sentenced to death. She was acquitted the following year, after public outcry and organized protests. However, being seen as more of a race issue than a gender issue, those protesters were mainly women of color. Again, proving there was little to no intersectionality among the feminist movement. As black women were seen as closer to black men than white women, making feminist see their issues as part of the race movement, not gender movement. The issue of unequal imprisonment rates continued to trouble women of color, and continued to be considered a race-only issue.