fbpx Skip to content

Print Lesson PDF

Passage 1 (Q.1-6)

At the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848,

women had called for the right to vote. After

the Civil War, Congress passed the Fifteenth

Amendment, giving voting rights to

  1. freedmen, but not to women. Some leading

abolitionists became suffragists, men and

women who fought for woman suffrage or

women’s right to vote. Like other reformers,

the suffragists formed organizations to

  1. promote their cause. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

and Susan B. Anthony founded the National

Woman Suffrage Association, which called for

a constitutional amendment allowing women

to vote in national elections. A second

  1. organization, the American Woman Suffrage

Association, focused on winning woman

suffrage in state elections. In 1890 the two

groups merged to form the National

American Woman Suffrage Association. Led

  1. by Anna Howard Shaw, a minister and doctor,

and Carrie Chapman Catt, a newspaper editor

and educator, this organization grew to more

than two million members by 1917. Groups

formed to protest the idea of giving women

  1. the vote. Both men and women supported

these groups on the belief that woman

suffrage would disturb society’s “natural”

balance and result in divorce and neglected


  1. The suffragists won their early victories in the

West. Wyoming led the nation in giving

women the right to vote in 1890. Between

1910 and 1913, five other states adopted

woman suffrage. By 1919 women could vote

  1. in at least some elections in most of the 48

states. In the meantime, suffragists continued

their struggle to win the vote everywhere.

Alice Paul, a Quaker who founded the

National Woman’s Party in 1916, was a

  1. forceful leader of the suffragist movement.

She sought greater economic and legal

equality as well as suffrage for women. During

a visit to Great Britain, Paul saw suffragists

use protest marches and hunger strikes to call

  1. attention to their cause. When she returned to

the United States, she too used these methods

in the fight for suffrage. In 1917, Alice Paul

met with President Woodrow Wilson but

failed to win his support for woman suffrage.

  1. Paul responded by leading women protesters

in front of the White House. Day after day

they marched carrying banners demanding

votes for women. When Paul and other

demonstrators were arrested for blocking the

  1. sidewalk, they started a much-publicized

hunger strike. Alva Belmont, one of the

protestors, proudly declared that all the

women had done was to stand there “quietly,

peacefully, lawfully, and gloriously.”

  1. By 1917 the national tide was turning in favor

of woman suffrage. New York and, a year

later, South Dakota and Oklahoma granted

equal suffrage. Meanwhile, Congress began

debating the issue, and President Wilson

  1. agreed to support an amendment to the

Constitution. Finally, in 1919 the Senate voted

in favor of the Nineteenth Amendment,

which allowed for women’s suffrage. The

amendment was ratified in 1920, in time for

  1. women to vote in that year’s presidential

election. For the first time, American women

were able to participate in the election of their

national leaders.

Passage 2 (Q.7-12)

After radical politics drove David Alfaro

Siqueiros from his native country in 1932, the

famous Mexican muralist was commissioned

to paint an 80-foot broad fresco on the newly

  1. formed Olvera Street in the idyllic Old

Mexico neighborhood of downtown Los

Angeles. Promoters envisioned colorful birds

and lush rainforests in the new painting,

“América Tropical,” to celebrate Tropical

  1. American culture. Siqueiros painted the

mural’s first two sections, depicting a tropical

rainforest and a Maya pyramid, in the daylight.

However, to avoid scrutiny, Siqueiros painted

the final section of the mural, the centerpiece,

  1. at night.


When Siqueiros unveiled the mural, the

reason for his secrecy became clear. The

central image of the work was a horrific figure

of a Mexican native crucified on a double

  1. cross as an American eagle perched above

him. Siqueiros’ symbolic indictment of

imperialism clashed with the idyllic Old

Mexico portrayed on the street below.

Displeased, the people who commissioned the

  1. painting painted over a part of the mural

almost immediately, and the entire fresco was

whitewashed by 1938.


Exposure to decades of sun and rain caused

the white paint covering the outdoor mural to

  1. fade by 1971 revealing the bright colors

underneath. At the same time, artists raising

awareness of Mexican American cultural

identity began to rediscover various works of

the Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera, José

  1. Clemente Orozco, and David Siqueiros.

“América Tropical” celebrated Mexican

American heritage while at the same time

making a political statement. Inspired by

Siqueiros’ whitewashed emblem of social

  1. justice, a new generation of artists embraced

“Mexican Muralism.”



The resulting Chicano mural movement

gained steam throughout California and the

Southwest United States in the 1970s.

  1. Hundreds of huge, brilliant new murals

depicting Mexican American culture and

history appeared during this period, some

commissioned in cultural locations but most

painted in abandoned lots, on empty

  1. buildings, or on highways. Several of these

murals remain, although poorly maintained.



Fortunately, a new group of artists has

worked assiduously to resurrect and restore

many of these murals. Leading the way, eighty

  1. years to the day after its original unveiling,

Siqueiros’ “América Tropical” was restored

and once again revealed to the public.

Advocates anticipate that Siqueiros’ mural will

serve both as an inspiration and a lesson. In

  1. the words of the master who created this

important cultural and artistic legacy, “We

could not lie by painting a false Tropical

America; we had to paint the true, authentic

Tropical America.”

Subscriber grade and assessment reports are saved for future access. Exams and walkthroughs are available in printable PDF format for offline test prep. 

Back To Top