25 Aug Celebrate Women’s Equality Day and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment!
This past Saturday, August 22, 2020, marked the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. The passage marked the largest expansion of democracy in the history of our country and on, Wednesday, August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day in the United States to commemorate this moment.
Many across the United States will be celebrating by speaking out online and participating in demonstrations. From elegant, timeless statements to fun TikTok challenges, here is a list of many things you can do to show your support, celebrate progress, and continue promoting equality.
WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE, As shared with us by the San Antonio 19th Amendment Centennial Committee
- White Ribbon Project:
Tie a white ribbon on a tree, mailbox, door hanger or porch to honor the sisters of the women’s suffrage movement. #womensequalityday
- Light the Night in White:
Turn your porch light on to honor the women suffragists of the 1920s, known for wearing white to show their support for voting rights. #womensequalityday
- Join the TIkTok Challenge:
We’re challenging you to share why voting is important to you through the #100YearsofVoting challenge. Post your video and tag, @SheKnewSheCouldSoSheDid
- VOTE November 3!:
Get registered to vote – Now! Click here<http://www.bexar.org> and click “Register to Vote” under the “Quick Resources” section. Deadline to register for the November 3 election is October 3.
See a complete list of events, activities and resources at 100yearsofwomenvotingsa.com then please enjoy this Brief Overview of a Woman’s Right to Vote sent to us by our friends at Centro San Antonio & the San Antonio 19th Amendment Centennial Committee.
A Brief Overview of a Woman’s Right to Vote
Our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers struggled for many of the rights and privileges of citizenship that we take for granted today. The suffrage (right to vote) movement was unique in that it was the first time women across the nation had petitioned on their behalf.
If you opened a dictionary and looked up the word “suffrage,” you would find that it means the right to vote. Our country is a democracy identified by the phrase “one person, one vote,” yet the framework of our government did not originally give the right to vote to everyone. When the U.S. Constitution was drafted in Philadelphia in 1787, women were not included in the debates and discussions of how to govern the country. Participation in this new democracy did not extend past the white men who qualified by meeting various religious, property and taxpaying criteria. Black men were granted the right to vote in 1870 with the ratification of the 15th Amendment, but Black women were denied this right until the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The first women’s rights convention was in 1848 at a meeting held in Seneca Falls, New York. Women and men came together at this convention and used the words of the Declaration of Independence to demand that women be afforded the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass were some of the prominent names responsible for these initial actions. The 60 women and 32 men who signed their names to this document became the foundation of the suffrage movement.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Black, Indigenous, Latina, and Asian women played an active role in the struggle for universal suffrage. But in spite of their hard work, many people didn’t listen to them. Black men and white women usually led civil rights organizations and set the national agenda. They often excluded Black, Indigenous, Latina, and Asian women from their organizations and activities. For example, the National American Woman Suffrage Association prevented Black women from attending their conventions. Black women had to march separately from white women in suffrage parades. Also, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony wrote the History of Woman Suffrage in the 1880s; they featured white suffragists while ignoring the contributions of African American suffragists. Though Black women are less well remembered, they played an important role in getting the 15th and 19th amendments passed.
Because of their unique position, Black women tended to focus on human rights and universal suffrage, rather than suffrage solely for African Americans or for women. Many Black suffragists weighed in on the debate over the 15th Amendment, which would enfranchise Black men but not Black women. Mary Ann Shadd Cary spoke in support of the 15th Amendment but was also critical of it as it did not give women the right to vote. Sojourner Truth argued that Black women would continue to face discrimination and prejudice unless their voices were uplifted like those of Black men. Other women of color were similarly active in the suffrage movement without benefit of the right to vote after the 19th amendment passed. For example, Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee was a leader of the suffrage movement in New York City, but she was not able to vote until 1943 when the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens, was revoked in 1943.
After the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Black women voted in elections and held political offices. However, many states passed laws that discriminated against African Americans, Indigenous Americans, American Latina/os, and Asian Americans and limited their freedoms, including poll taxes and literacy tests. Black, Indigenous, Latina, and Asian women continued to fight for their rights. Educator and political advisor Mary McLeod Bethune formed the National www.100YearsOfWomenVotingSA.com #100YearsOfWomenVoting|#SASuffragists|#VotingWomenMakeADifference 6 Council of Negro Women in 1935 to pursue civil rights. Tens of thousands of African Americans, Indigenous Americans, American Latina/os, and Asian Americans worked over several decades to secure suffrage, which occurred when the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. This act represents more than a century of work by Black, Indigenous, Latina, and Asian women to make voting easier and more equitable.
Our local governments are based on the democratic process, of which voting is a primary principle. The social works and reform embraced by the early suffragists are continued by the many thousands of service hours given by women and girls across the United States of America.
WOMEN’S VOTE IN TEXAS
The question of whether women should be granted the privilege of voting rights was first raised in Texas during the Constitutional Convention of 1868-1869. The proposal was rejected by a vote of 52 to 13. As the women’s suffrage movement became more organized over the next four decades, supporters realized that the issue was perceived to be more of a social threat rather than a political one. Many argued that enfranchisement would cause women to neglect their homes, children and other domestic responsibilities. It was up to the suffragists to articulate that women were citizens too and entitled to a say in governmental affairs. To generate support at the grassroots level it became vital to educate and inform public opinion in an accessible manner. Women’s suffrage clubs sponsored lectures, conducted debates, organized essay contests, managed booths at fairs and department stores, marched in parades and wrote music, plays and newspaper articles to spread awareness.
While these efforts helped make women’s enfranchisement an active issue, concrete results were not achieved until the governorship of William P. Hobby from 1917 to 1921. Texas suffragists had pledged support to Hobby during the election if he would push for the passage of a bill that would grant women the right to vote in Texas primary elections. Primary suffrage was a more realistic goal than full suffrage as it required only a simple majority of both legislative houses and the governor’s signature. The bill passed by a wide margin and was signed into law on March 26, 1918, offering women the right to vote in the state of Texas.
By May 1919, Hobby recommended that the Texas Constitution be amended to offer full voting rights to women, but the amendment was defeated by a majority of 25,000 votes. On June 4, the U.S. Senate passed the “Susan B. Anthony” amendment, which stipulated that if three-fourths of the states ratified the amendment, women would have the vote nationwide. The Texas legislature convened in special session and Hobby placed the women’s suffrage amendment on the agenda. By this point, women suffragists had become part of the mainstream, and despite some opposition, the amendment was approved by the Texas Senate on June 28, 1919. Texas became the ninth state in the Union, and the first state in the South, to ratify the 19th Amendment.
TIMELINE OF VOTING RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES
- Prior to 1789, voting was restricted to white men who were property owners.
- 1789: The U.S. Constitution grants the states the power to set voting requirements. Generally, states limited this right to property-owning or tax-paying white males (about 6% of the population).
- 1792–1838: Free Black males lose the right to vote in several northern states including in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey.
- 1792–1856: Abolition of property qualifications for white men. The 1828 presidential election was the first in which non-property-holding white males could vote in the vast majority of states. By the end of the 1820s, attitudes and state laws had shifted in favor of universal white male suffrage.
- 1870: The 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents states from denying the right to vote on grounds of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Black males in the northern states could vote, but the majority of African Americans lived in the South.
- 1887: Citizenship is granted to Native Americans who are willing to disassociate themselves from their tribe by the Dawes Act, making them technically eligible to vote.
- 1910: From Texas, Mexican-born feminist Teresa Villarreal, who had fled the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, supported the Mexican Revolution, the Socialist Party, and women suffrage. With her sister Andrea, Villarreal published that state’s first feminist newspaper, La Mujer Moderna (The Modern Woman), and El Obrero: Periódico Independiente (The Worker: Independent Newspaper) in 1910.
- 1911: After the First Mexican Congress in Laredo, Texas, journalist Jovita Idar praised woman suffrage in La Crónica (the Chronicle), where she connected the vote to her longstanding demands for Mexican American civil rights. She then founded the League of Mexican Women.
- 1920: Women are guaranteed the right to vote by the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In practice, the same restrictions that hindered the ability of non-white men to vote now also applied to non-white women.
- 1924: All Native Americans are granted citizenship and the right to vote, regardless of tribal affiliation.
- 1943: Chinese immigrants are given the right to citizenship and the right to vote by the Magnuson Act.
- 1961: Residents of Washington, D.C. are granted the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections by the 23rd Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 1964: Poll Tax payment is prohibited from being used as a condition for voting in federal elections by the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- 1965: Protection of voter registration and voting for racial minorities, later applied to language minorities, is established by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is when all people were fully granted the right to vote in America.
- 1971: Adults age 18 – 21 are granted the right to vote by the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This was enacted in response to Vietnam War protests, which argued that soldiers who were old enough to fight for their country should be granted the right to vote.
- 1986: The United States military as well as other citizens living on United States bases abroad, or aboard ships are granted the right to vote by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
- 1996-2008: Twenty-eight U.S. states changed their laws on felon voting rights, mostly to restore rights or to simplify the process of restoration.
- 2006: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was extended for the fourth time by George W. Bush, being the second extension of 25 years.
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