Meet the Trailblazing, History-Making Women of SUFFS

Suffs is running on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre.

By: Apr. 07, 2024
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Who are the suffs of Suffs? Did you know that the characters of one of Broadway's newest musicals are based on real, trailblazing women? Before you watch them make history on stage at the Music Box Theatre, get to know the ladies who changed the world over 100 years ago.

SuffsAlice Paul

(January 11, 1885- July 9, 1977)

Alice Paul was a pioneering American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist who played a crucial role in the fight for women's suffrage in the United States. Paul dedicated her life to advocating for gender equality and social justice. Paul co-founded the National Woman's Party and was instrumental in organizing the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade, which brought national attention to the suffrage movement. Her tireless efforts eventually led to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote. Paul's legacy continues to inspire generations of activists fighting for equality around the world.

Alice Paul is played in Suffs by Shaina Taub.

SuffsLucy Burns

(July 28, 1879- December 22, 1966)

Alongside Alice Paul, Burns co-founded the National Woman's Party and played a crucial role in the women's suffrage movement. Burns was known for her strategic organizing skills and her commitment to nonviolent protest tactics, including hunger strikes and picketing the White House. Her dedication and perseverance were instrumental in securing the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Lucy Burns is played in Suffs by Ally Bonino.

SuffsCarrie Chapman Catt

(January 9, 1859- March 9, 1947)

Catt served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and played a pivotal role in securing the passage of the 19th Amendment. Catt was known for her strategic organizing skills, tireless advocacy, and commitment to nonviolent protest. Beyond suffrage, she also worked tirelessly for peace and women's rights internationally, founding the League of Women Voters and leaving an enduring legacy of activism and social change.

Carrie Chapman Catt is played in Suffs by Jenn Colella.

SuffsIda B. Wells

(July 16, 1862- March 25, 1931)

Wells was a pioneering African American journalist, educator, and civil rights activist. She became famous for her investigative journalism exposing the horrors of lynching in the United States, challenging the prevailing narratives of the time. Wells was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a vocal advocate for women's suffrage. Her fearless advocacy and uncompromising commitment to justice have cemented her legacy as one of the most influential figures in the fight for civil rights and equality in America.

Ida B. Wells is played in Suffs by Nikki M. James.

SuffsAlva Belmont

(January 17, 1853- January 26, 1933)

Belmont was a prominent American socialite, suffragist, and women's rights activist. As a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family, she used her influence and resources to advocate for social and political change, particularly focusing on women's suffrage. Belmont was a leading figure in the National Woman's Party and played a significant role in funding the movement, hosting rallies, and organizing events to promote women's rights. Her dedication to the cause of suffrage helped to advance the movement and ultimately led to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Beyond suffrage, Belmont continued to work for women's empowerment, supporting initiatives such as women's education and economic independence. Her legacy as a champion of women's rights endures, inspiring future generations of activists in the ongoing fight for gender equality.

Alva Belmont is played in suffs by Emily Skinner.

SuffsPhoebe Burn

(February 2, 1887- December 27, 1975)

Burn gained prominence for her role in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Harry T. Burn, a Tennessee state legislator, famously cast the deciding vote in favor of ratification, following a heartfelt letter from his mother, encouraging him to support the amendment. His pivotal vote ensured Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed for ratification, marking a historic victory for women's suffrage in America. Burn's  action exemplifies the power of individual agency in effecting social change and remains a symbol of women's empowerment and political activism.

Phoebe Burn is played in Suffs by Emily Skinner.

SuffsRuza Wenclawska

(December 15, 1889- 1977)

Wenclawska immigrated to the United States in her youth and became involved in organizing garment workers in New York City. Wenclawska played a significant role in the labor strikes of the early 20th century, fighting for better wages for women, improved working conditions, and the rights of immigrant workers. Her activism paved the way for advancements in labor rights and helped establish the foundation for worker solidarity movements in the United States. She was a dedicated member of the National Woman's Party. 

Ruza Wenclawska is played in Suffs by Kim Blanck.

SuffsInez Milholland

(August 6, 1886- November 25, 1916)

Milholland gained renown for her passionate speeches, fearless activism, and commitment to social justice. Milholland became a symbol of the suffrage movement, particularly known for her leadership during the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., where she famously led the procession astride a white horse. Her untimely death at the age of 30 cut short her promising career as a champion of gender equality, but her legacy continues to inspire activists around the world.

Inez Milholland is played in Suffs by Hannah Cruz.

SuffsMary Church Terrell

(September 23, 1863- July 24, 1954)

Terrell was a prominent African American educator, suffragist, and civil rights activist. She was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, graduating from Oberlin College in 1884. Terrell was a leading voice in the fight for racial and gender equality, serving as the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and as a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Throughout her life, she advocated for the rights of African Americans and women, tirelessly working to dismantle systems of segregation and discrimination. Terrell's legacy continues to inspire generations of activists in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and social justice.

Mary Church Terrell is played in Suffs by Anastaćia McCleskey.

Phyllis Terrell

(February 2, 1921- May 5, 1964)

Daughter of Mary Church Terrell, Phyllis was deeply involved in advocating for racial equality and social justice, particularly in the South during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Terrell worked tirelessly to register African American voters, organize protests, and combat segregation and discrimination in her local community. 

Phyllis Terrell is played in Suffs by Laila Erica Drew.

SuffsDoris Stevens

(October 26, 1892- March 22, 1963)

Stevens was a dedicated American suffragist, feminist, and writer. Stevens was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment and later worked on international women's rights issues as part of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Her memoir "Jailed for Freedom" remains a poignant account of her experiences as a suffragist, and her tireless advocacy continues to inspire those fighting for gender equality worldwide.

Doris Stevens is played in Suffs by Nadia Dandashi.

SuffsDudley Field Malone

(June 10, 1882- May 15, 1952)

Malone was a prominent American lawyer, diplomat, and prohibition opponent. He gained recognition for his legal expertise and advocacy for civil liberties during the early 20th century. Malone served as an assistant United States attorney and later as an assistant district attorney in New York City. He is perhaps best known for his vocal opposition to Prohibition laws, which he believed infringed upon personal freedoms and led to widespread social unrest, and as an advocate for women's suffrage. Throughout his career, Malone remained dedicated to defending individual rights and challenging unjust laws, leaving a lasting impact on American legal and political discourse.

Dudley Malone is played in Suffs by Tsilala Brock.

SuffsWoodrow Wilson

(December 28, 1856- February 3, 1924)

Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, serving from 1913 to 1921. A Democrat from Virginia, Wilson is known for his progressive domestic policies, including the establishment of the Federal Reserve System and the implementation of the first federal income tax with the Revenue Act of 1913. He also championed the passage of progressive reforms such as the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Wilson's legacy regarding the women's rights movement is mixed. While his presidency coincided with the peak of the suffrage movement, and he ultimately supported the 19th Amendment, his support was not initially forthcoming, and he faced pressure from suffragists like Alice Paul, who picketed the White House during his presidency. Wilson's position on suffrage evolved over time, and he eventually endorsed the amendment in 1918 after it became clear that public opinion was shifting in favor of women's voting rights.

Woodrow Wilson is played in Suffs by Grace McLean.

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