Adella Hunt Logan was born free in Sparta, Georgia in 1863 to Maria Hunt, a black and Creek Native American, and a white planter. She attended Atlanta University in 1879 and received a master’s degree from there in 1905. In 1883 Adella became the second woman to join the faculty of Tuskegee University, then known as Tuskegee Normal School for Teachers, when she accepted Booker T. Washington’s invitation to come to the Institute and teach English and Social Sciences. She would later become Tuskegee Institute’s first librarian. In 1888 Adella married Warren Logan, Tuskegee Institute’s treasurer and a close friend of Booker T. Washington.
In 1895 Adella became a founding member of Tuskegee Women’s Club (TWC), which was formed by female faculty and the wives of male faculty at Tuskegee. TWC held bi-weekly mothers’ meetings and worked on social issues such as temperance, prison reform, and women’s suffrage. In July 1895 TWC would unite with 35 clubs in twelve states to create the National Federation of Afro-American Women, with Margaret Murray Washington serving as president. In 1895 the National Federation of Afro-American Women would unite with the League to become the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC). Their motto was “Lifting As We Climb.”
For several years Adella served as head of the NACWC’s suffrage department, and in Tuskegee she led monthly discussions on the women’s suffrage movement and amassed a large library of reading materials about suffrage. During the early 1900s Adella lectured widely at regional and national conventions on suffrage issues and in 1901 she became Alabama’s first and only life member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Under the moniker A.H.L. and L.H.A. she wrote articles about NACWC activities for the NAWSA newspaper, The Woman’s Journal. For a number of years, The Woman’s Journal had only seven subscribers in Alabama, three of whom were associated with Tuskegee Institute.
Adella also wrote several articles on the topic of suffrage. Her two most well-known articles were “Women Suffrage,” which was first published in The Colored American Magazine in 1905; and “Colored Women as Voters,” which Adella wrote in September 1912 as part of a group of essays titled “A Woman’s Suffrage Symposium” for Crisis Magazine. In 1912 Adella organized a women’s suffrage march through Tuskegee Institute. For the march she wrote a poem set to the tune of “Coming Through The Rye” entitled, “Just As Well As He”.
Like many African American suffragists of her time, Adella supported universal suffrage and firmly believed that gaining the right to vote would help end the racist, discriminatory, and violent practices that were often inflicted on African Americans. At the top of many African American suffragists lists was police violence and sexual exploitation. “If white American women,” she wrote in The Colored American Magazine, “with all their natural and acquired advantages need the ballot, that right protective of all other rights, if Anglo-Saxons have been helped by it - and they have - how much more do black Americans, male and female, need the strong defense of a vote to secure their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” In her article entitled “Colored Women as Voters” Adella wrote, “They [African Americans] know too, that officers, as a rule, recognize few obligations to voteless citizens.”
On December 12,1915 Adella Hunt Logan passed away in Tuskegee, Alabama at the age of 52. She did not get the chance to see her daughters vote, as she often times expressed great hope and interest in seeing. Five years after her death, on August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Subsequently, as a result of the higher turnout of African American women than white women to register and cast votes, many cities and towns passed laws that kept African Americans, both male and female, from voting. In 1960, forty-five years after the passing of Adella, Charles G. Gomillion, a Tuskegee Institute professor, sued the city of Tuskegee after the city changed the electoral map to exclude Tuskegee Institute and the majority of African American citizens in the city. The case reached the Supreme Court and served as a precedent for other cases that sought to challenge political and electoral systems that diluted voting and deprived citizens of their right to elect a candidate. Fifty years after Adella’s passing and forty-five years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. African Americans could now cast their ballots in towns and cities where they had once been denied this right. Adella’s dream of the United States having a “government of the people, for the people, and by the people - even including the colored people” - was finally a reality.
Just As Well As He
Lyrics by Adella Hunt Logan
To the tune of “Catcher in the Rye”
If a body pays the taxes,
Surely you'll agree<
That a body earns the franchise
Whether he or she...
Every man now has the ballot;
None you know have we,
But we have brains and we can use them
Just as well as he.
If a home that has a father
Needs a mother too,
Then every state has men voters
Needs its women too.