The Concord Review Publishes Research by Chenxi “Rita” Xiang ’24 on Chinese Women’s Suffrage

Chenxi “Rita” Xiang ’24 has been published in the upcoming fall issue of The Concord Review for her history paper titled “Suffrage in Chinatown: Mabel Lee and the Female Chinese Immigrant Suffrage Movement” about a Chinese women’s suffragist who won the right to vote in the United States. Rita states in her research that although shadowed by the women’s suffrage movement that occurred 32 years prior, Mabel Lee’s work inspired the tone of the Chinese social justice movement in America. Among the many writings The Concord Review receives, only 5% are selected and published. The Concord Review believes that the pursuit of academic excellence in history in secondary schools should be given the same attention as other academic subjects.

At Walker’s, students are able to explore Advanced Topics in U.S. History, a class that is offered to juniors and seniors who show interest and vigor in their research of American history. Advanced courses and Walker’s Capabilities Approach Program take students beyond the classroom to apply their work in the world outside the School. “Rita’s near insatiable curiosity about history and her abiding respect for the voices of the past show themselves in her written work and in discussion,” says English and History Faculty Carol Clark-Flanagan P’93, ’97. “Enthusiasm and excitement drive her research. Her marvelous ability to weave together scholarly and primary sources illuminates something beyond the content she is studying. I can see her someday as a well-known historian at a top college or university with several books under her belt and a new one on the way.” 

Congratulations, Rita!

An excerpt from “Suffrage in Chinatown: Mabel Lee and the Female Chinese Immigrant Suffrage Movement”

Forty years after the 1912 women’s suffrage parade, Mabel Lee — who was almost 60 — and other female Chinese suffragists finally won the right to vote in the U.S. But this victory came 32 years after the victory of white suffragists, despite the fact that female Chinese immigrants once devoted themselves to the white suffrage movement. Moreover, the voices of those Chinese suffragists were gradually forgotten by history — it was not until 2018 that the Chinatown Post Office was renamed the “Mabel Lee Memorial Post Office” and the story of Mabel and the movement she once represented came back into the public eye. However, although the official Chinese women’s movement and Chinese female involvement in American politics did not come to fruition until decades after 1920, Mabel and other Chinese women’s voices enabled the Chinese female community to be heard by American society for the first time. They were, like the banner they held in 1912, the true “Light From China.” In future female Chinese social justice movements, the spirit did not die out as it did in Mabel’s time. On the contrary, it lives on: for example, when countless Asian girls held up the banner of “stop Asian hate,” it was as if Mabel Lee was once again sitting high on horseback, smiling at the world.