I ask this not from a political standpoint, but from a historical standpoint. Yesterday, Wednesday, August 26 marked the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The Amendment which gave women the right to vote in this country.
Here’s the link to the History Channel’s video on the Women’s Suffrage Movement with lots of links to other stories. I hope you’ll find time to check it out.
Wednesday, the first statue of women was unveiled in Central Park in New York City. Before that, no statues of women existed in the park. It’s like we’ve been invisible. The women depicted are Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
I thought I knew quite a lot about the movement because I wrote a big paper in college on Anthony.
However, I didn’t realize the differences in the movements in America and Great Britain. For instance in referring to these brave women, I’ve always used the term “suffragettes.” Well, that’s accurate for the British ladies, but those in the US were termed “suffragists.” The second word was somehow thought to be less strident and less offensive. You can check out my friend Helena Fairfax’s book STRUGGLE AND SUFFRAGE IN HALLIFAX for more details. Helena did great research. After reading her book, you will never complain about your life again. 🙂
The abolitionist movement and women’s movement were separate to begin with and then came together and then separated again. The breakup came over the 15th Amendment. The women suffragist Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady Stanton refused to support that amendment because it left out women, despite Frederick Douglas’s support for women’s right to vote. This forced a split between the groups. Separate Black Women Clubs also formed.
Wyoming was the first state to grant the vote to women. Montana sent the first woman to Congress before she could even vote in her state, which is what the banner below references.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images from the History Channel site
Despite the passage of the 15th and 19th Amendments people were kept from voting by things like poll taxes and intimidation. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I think we can see that in these two movements. First black men got the vote, then women, and then our Native American population. It wasn’t until 1965 with the signing of the Voting Rights Act that all citizen’s votes were assured of their right to vote. Which again today seems to be in jeopardy.
Somehow in writing my paper back in college, I missed the info about how dangerous it was for women to advocate for this right. (In my defense, I was looking at Anthony’s speeches for a speech class on persuasion.) I am so grateful that those women sacrificed to march and speak out. I hate that they were endangered by their actions. The idea of them being hit with clubs is…it’s mind boggling. I truly don’t think I’d be brave enough to stand up to someone with a club. We must never forget.
So because of their actions, their bravery, we have a greater responsibility to vote. We need to educate ourselves, to campaign for candidates, to work on issues, to run for office. To make a difference in this world. Those women left us a better world. Don’t we have a responsibility to do the same for our children?
Are you registered to vote? Do you have a plan for this year? Will you vote by mail or in person? Love to hear from you.