Lena E. Knighton (1868 – 1968)

Lena Knighton, the oldest of the three political Edwards sisters, moved from Americus, Georgia, to Hartford by 1918, with her husband, James L. Knighton, and their five children. To honor her 100th birthday in 1968, The Hartford Courant ran an article titled: “Mrs. Knighton 100 Years Old Today.” It reported that Knighton, along with her sisters, “fought vigorously for women’s right to vote and the active participation of Negroes in politics.”

For many years the sisters worked together in the Republican Party, including the Colored Voters’ Republican League. Knighton transferred to the Democratic Party when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1933, which seems to have caused some friendly sibling rivalry. In the 1930s Knighton also worked with Boce W. Barlow, Jr., in Democratic politics. Barlow would become the first African American judge in Connecticut in 1957, as well as the first African American elected to the Connecticut State Senate in 1966.

Knighton was one of the founders of Bethel AME Church, which later joined Faith Congregational Church.

Back to: The Work Must Be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote

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