Black History Month: Helena weather forecaster reads newsletter on civil rights legislation from Colored Women's Clubs in 1953

Black History Month Asia
Posted at 10:38 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:44:03-05

HELENA — February is Black History Month and to celebrate, we've partnered with the Montana Historical Society and gathered Helena community members to read works from Montana African American figures.

For this reading, we have our very own weather forecaster, Asia Raye, she will be reading a newsletter from the Montana Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

MT Fed of colored women

Asia Raye reads:

“By now, all of you know that House Bill 73 was defeated in the past session of the state legislature. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 44 - 36, and was sent to the Senate”

The year is 1953. The Montana legislature is considering House Bill 73, which consists of “an act to guarantee the full and equal enjoyment of all places of public accommodation and amusement; and repealing all acts and parts of acts in conflict herewith.” It allows anyone equal access to hotels, ice cream parlors, elevators, and so on.

WEB EXTRA: Asia Raye Black History Month p1

Asia Raye reads:

“In the Senate, the bill got a favorable report from the Judiciary Committee, and should have been brought to the floor. The bill was reassigned to the Cities and Town Affairs Committee. The bill was allowed to remain in the committee, and died there, without ever having been brought to the floor of the Senate for vote.”

This reading comes from a monthly newsletter from the Montana Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, a group which lobbied for civil rights legislation, offered social activities for Black women, and more. They expressed disappointment of House Bill 73 not passing.

MT Fed of colored women
[Group photograph of attendees of the 29th convention of the Montana Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, in the basement of the Union Bethel A.M.E. Church, Great Falls, Montana, July 25, 1950.]

Asia Raye reads:

“This would seem to imply that the opposition was afraid to allow the bill to come up for vote, and indicates that the measure may have passed had it been given a fair chance. We are greatly disappointed that the bill was allowed to die in this manner, but we are not disheartened. The whole matter is a case of right and wrong, and right will prevail. All our efforts and energies must be renewed and strengthened for the fight in 1955.”

WEB EXTRA: Asia Raye Black History Month p2

In 1955, House Bill 52, which again, allowed equal enjoyment of public accommodations passed through the house and senate. Section One on that bill prohibited any person or business from discriminating against anyone based on race or color.

In 1951,1953, and 1955, the Colored Women's Clubs sent out letters encouraging all members to write to their Montana legislature for support on the bills.

MT Fed of Colored Women
A newsletter from 1955.

To learn about African American women in Montana, click here.