Authors hope ‘The Suffragist Playbook’ offers future activists a roadmap
Two women’s history experts from storied political families are teaming up to give future activists a look at one of the largest and longest movements in American history with “The Suffragist Playbook.”
“There’s still people who probably know the names of more horses in the Civil War than women in the suffrage movement,” says Lucinda Robb, co-author of the book, which was released this week.
Robb and fellow author Rebecca Boggs Roberts share a friendship spanning generations. Robb’s grandmother was former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, while Roberts, 50, is granddaughter to the late Rep. Lindy Boggs (D) — the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana.
“Our grandmothers were the original friends. They were both young political wives,” Roberts says. “And when my grandmother came to town, she really relied on Lady Bird Johnson to show her the ropes and to show her all the protocols.”
The pair’s mothers, the late famed journalist Cokie Roberts and former Virginia first lady Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, were also lifelong friends.
Beyond both “growing up in an interesting kind of life,” they also share a love of women’s history. A former journalist, Roberts is the program coordinator for Smithsonian Associates. Robb served as the project director for “Our Mothers Before Us: Women and Democracy” at the Center for Legislative Archives.
With “The Suffragist Playbook,” they hope readers learn the story of the fight for the 19th Amendment, which gave some women the right to vote and tends, they say, to get “glossed over” in history classes.
“Not only should you know about the suffrage movement just to be an educated American, but you should know because you can really learn from them to become an activist yourself,” Roberts says. “So that’s the goal: Take the tips from this massive, successful, long-term, peaceful movement to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish.”
“I sometimes think of it as a shorthand ‘Art of War’ but as an activist: people who do not want to carry guns into battle, but want change in a more peaceful manner,” says Robb.
The release of the book was supposed to coincide with the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States earlier this year, but like countless other projects it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.