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The Vote

“White supremacy in North Carolina rests in woman’s hands”

Dr. Delia Dixon-Carroll and the Power of White Women Voters

by Angela Page Robbins

When women gained the right to vote in 1920, many southern suffragists worried about turnout. The antisuffrage campaign had vigorously questioned the wisdom of allowing women to step out of the domestic sphere, thereby upending conventional gender norms, and into the political sphere, where they might compete with men for power and influence. Dr. Delia Dixon-Carroll, one of North Carolina’s leading suffragists, took on the weighty job of convincing white women that their respectability would not evaporate when they stepped into the political arena. Woman suffrage was unpopular among her fellow Democrats, whose handwringing centered on the race and gender hierarchy upon which their status was built. She impressed upon her audiences that it was not outsiders who were agitating for votes for women but women like herself. Among the state’s elite, Dixon-Carroll could trace her family’s roots in North Carolina to before 1730. As a Dixon, she commanded attention; she was the younger sister of Thomas Dixon Jr., the famed novelist whose book The Clansman was adapted into the blockbuster film The Birth of a Nation in 1915. Dixon-Carroll worked to establish impeccable credentials as a physician, educator, and Progressive reformer in Raleigh, earning a place among only ten Tar Heel women honored in the “Feminine Hall of Fame” feature in The State (now Our State) magazine in 1943.

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
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