Celebrate the 19th Amendment Centennial

Hard to imagine that women could not vote. Let that sink in that yes in the Land of the Free & Brave women were one of the groups that were denied a voice.

Tomorrow, August 18, 2020 it will be a century since the 19th Amendment was ratified and Women could Vote.

We have come a long way but our fight for equality still continues to this day. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of 1972 was never ratified and even today is still debated.

Let us take a bit of a look at our history and get a better idea on how hard the road to vote was.

It took incredible courage to get the Women’s Right To Vote law. The Suffragists worked at the movement for decades. The cry for women to vote began before the Civil War in the 1830s. That is right!!  Some even said it began earlier but at the least it took 90 years before it became law. At about this time all white men were given the right and the property ownership qualification was removed.  Women had hoped they would be included. The History Channel has a great article on the movement and here is quote about the mid 1800s from that article and why it was not to be then.

Meanwhile, many American women were beginning to chafe against what historians have called the “Cult of True Womanhood”: that is, the idea that the only “true” woman was a pious, submissive wife and mother concerned exclusively with home and family.

OMG – the Cult of True Womanhood.  As a child and girl of the 1950s and 1960s I still chafe at the concept that we girls should be good little housewives.

Back to the history…. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were the chief leaders of the new movement that “American women were autonomous individuals who deserved their own political identities” and with others had the Seneca Convention around this very large issue.

Susan B Anthony had become close friends with Stanton and in 1866, they initiated the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. In 1868, they began publishing a women’s rights newspaper called The Revolution.

The Civil War had slowed the movement.  Women felt a lot of excitement surrounded the potential for them to be part of the changes to come when war ended.  It was not to be.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, extends the Constitution’s protection to all citizens—and defines “citizens” as “male”; the 15th, ratified in 1870, guarantees black men the right to vote.

You read that right… all about the MEN and Women were still second class citizens.

In 1890 the movement got serious with several organizations forming.  The most powerful being the National American Woman Suffrage Association and later the more radical National Woman’s Party.

They turned to picketing the White House everyday for two years (except Sunday) no matter the weather and eventually hunger strikes when they were jailed.

Women picket White House 1910’s

Finally Woodrow Wilson bowed to the pressure and supported the amendment that would give women the vote. It took about a year for the states to ratify and in the end it was one young legislator from Tennessee who changed his vote.  He said his mother told him to vote in favor of it & he knew a mothers advice is always the safest for her son.

That shows that each of us are important and how just one person can be that tipping point.  Isn’t that the whole point of all of us Voting?  Our vote is not in vain but rather can make a huge difference.

Next I want to talk about this girl.. Batgirl.  I was a shy child and now in hind sight was bullied  due to my gawkiness and being a bookworm versus one of the cool girls.

In my late teens the world was changing with the summer of love and flower power. I found in those movements a freedom from my bullies and spent most of the 70s in a counter-culture that uplifted all people.

I was inspired and felt liberated by all the bra burning and even the ERA that never passed.  My sister bucked the odds early in the 1980’s and became an Able Bodied Seaman. She was one of the first women to break into the Merchant Marine’s all male world.

That stimulated me to learn to drive Semi Trucks over the road and break into that male dominated industry.  My favorite song then was The Eagles – “Take it to the Limit”  I often would sing that to myself to keep going despite push back and those that said we could not do these man things.

Wow!!!  We pushed against the odds and made great progress for all of women in the 1980’s.

Back to today and how we have broken another barrier.  Our Vice President pick for the Democrats is a WOMAN!!  Senator Kamala Harris is going to sky rocket our freedom to the top of the next mountain.

We need to be sure we exercise the rights that our sisters and brothers of the past worked so hard for.  With that I leave you with these two words!

 

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