Protest Interrupts ‘Suffs’ Performance, Arguing It’s a ‘White Wash’ of Suffrage

The show produced by Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai does include Alice Paul’s suppression of Black voices in the suffrage movement, despite protesters saying otherwise

| 03 Jul 2024 | 02:32

Protestors interrupted a performance of “Suffs” on Broadway July 2, chanting and hanging a banner claiming the show whitewashes the women’s suffrage movement.

Produced by Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai, “Suffs” is a musical about the women’s suffrage movement, with somewhat of a focus on one of its leaders Alice Paul (played by Shaina Taub, who won Tony awards for writing the show’s book and score) and her leadership.

In the middle of the show’s first act on July 2, a group of people took to one of the boxes in the audience and displayed a banner reading “‘Suffs’ is a white wash,” and directing people to the group’s website (the link displayed redirects users to

According to Talia Jane on X (formerly Twitter), “The show, produced by Hillary Clinton, was brought to a standstill until demonstrators were removed + banner was taken down.”

On the Cancel “Suffs” site, the group describes itself as “an autonomous group of radical, anti-racist, queer feminists.”

“‘SUFFS’ is a betrayal of the next generation of feminists. We REJECT this rehashed white feminism,” a statement at the bottom of the website reads.

In more ways than one, the protestors’ actions were — intentionally or not—emulations of elements of “Suffs” itself. In fact, the show actually includes a scene where there is a banner hanging from a box in the theater. As such, there was a moment in the show where the onstage, in-story protest happened right where the off-stage, real-world protest did, making for a striking comparison.

“We can confirm this incident happened at last night’s performance of ‘Suffs,’ and at no point was the safety of any company members or patrons at the Music Box Theatre compromised,” said a representative from the production in a statement.

Interestingly, the show itself actually does address many of the facts that the Cancel “Suffs” group claims it lacks. For instance, Cancel “Suffs” said that Alice Paul’s own racism went unaddressed in the show.

“The real story is that Alice Paul excluded Black women from her organization, the National Woman’s Party (NWP) until after 1920,” the website reads. “That’s why Black women organized their own, separate suffrage organizations. But this racist history gets conveniently edited out of the show.”

This is not edited out of “Suffs.” In fact, it is the topic of the fourth song in “Suffs,” and a major theme throughout the show.

“I hear you quote Frederick Douglass on your soapbox // Intending to include and impress us. // But in the press, you play down our involvement // And here behind closed doors, you attempt to suppress us,” sings Nikki M. James playing Ida B. Wells to Taub’s Paul for suggesting Black women have their own delegation, separate from that of the states.

Laila Erica Drew, who plays Phyllis Terrell and Robin in the show, took to Instagram to share her own personal response.

“Now I *definitely* know nobody cares that I’m baring my soul and my ancestral pain onstage every single night,” she wrote. “*Especially* the people who claim to be fighting for us but in the same breath say they want to ‘cancel’ one of the only shows on Broadway that addresses Black erasure.”