Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

Centennial of Women’s Suffrage

Juliana Accetturo, Fall 2020

August 18, 1920 is the date that 26 million women were granted the right to vote and declared protected under the constitution permanently.[1] 100 years have elapsed since then, which is an occasion for celebration. The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage is a celebration to commemorate all the women that fought the vigorous century-long battle to achieve their right as citizens to vote. In 2020, this celebration will bring more awareness of the history of women and the struggle that was endured. Individuals in honor of past suffragists want to acknowledge the strides since the 19th amendment, but also the downfalls. Furthermore, this celebration acknowledges injustices and inequality in women today and aims to motivate women to unite as one and continue to be persistent in this ongoing crusade. The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage aspires to put forth more perception of the significance of voting through events, exhibit tours, videos and readings from past suffragists. The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage allows individuals to step into the past to acknowledge the tireless fight with important events to empower individuals to exercise their rights as citizens to vote and continue the suffragist legacy until all are made equal.

The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage is not only to honor 100 years of the 19th amendment guaranteeing and protecting the right to vote, it is also implementing insight of the tireless efforts of the suffragists. The 19th amendment on no occasion would have been passed without the 72-year crusade suffragists withstood. Ever since 1776, pro-suffrage women have cooperatively worked together to produce modest leaps to attain their universal goal of the vote. Many women emerged as suffragists, advocating for the right to vote through protests, lobbies, riots, march, and pickets for the right of the ballot. In 1848, the first woman’s rights convention was hosted in Seneca Falls, New York. Women across the nation assembled to express the injustices and manufacture a document labeled a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolution. This document states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal;…”[2] This documentation will become the motivation for years to transpire. Women, through their triumphs and defeats, set out to generate noise and pierce the silence no matter the consequences. One passed, the 19th Amendment was then sent to the states where it was ratified by 3/4th of the 48 states. Then, in August of 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby declared the 19th Amendment forever protecting women’s rights under the Constitution. Women had permanently won their battle after a decades-long endeavor. Women across the nation rejoiced in the thought of equality throughout all aspects of society and never dreamt to be fighting this fight for generations to come.

The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage 2020 is a 100 year commemoration of a milestone in our democracy and glorifies the women that have granted females the power to carry out the rights they fought for. This celebration is nationwide and allows women or men of any age and race to explore the battle in attaining this amendment. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, identified as a key leader of the women’s rights movement, states, “The right to vote is ours. Have it, we must. Use it, we will.”[3] The Centennial honors the legacy of suffragists and their sacrifices and bestows comprehension concerning the unfinished crusade for equality. On account of 2020 public health restrictions, the celebration is limited to online; nevertheless, this still leaves individuals with a multitude of opportunities to delve into and rejoice in the past/future advances for women. This beloved amendment didn’t just grant women the right to vote; it has presented women with the propensity to have a voice equal to men, enforce positive change, and provide consistent guaranteed protection under the Constitution. As well as any other holiday, individuals can lend an ear to interviews with the powerful women of the 1900s, share in the stories of suffragists, or engage in analysis of documents and art. Enumerated in the Centennial calendar are nearby events that individuals can partake in. For instance, the Newport, RI tour where individuals can seek out the main sights connected to women who influenced the suffrage movement, like Alva Vanderbelt.[4] Individuals can participate in virtual exhibits and museum tours where they can discover written documents and important objects that were used in the crusade. Citizens can virtually visit the monuments of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony where they can delve into their stories. It displays to individuals an alternative to step into the past and acknowledge the successes and downfalls of women activists in the past and present. Also, it is important to acknowledge the advantages of the Amendment and appreciation of the strides that got the United States to present reinforcement and the efforts that follow. Overall, women around the world unite to deliver these messages to most through this celebration to encourage involvement to secure significant changes in the society and communities. This glorification, apart from being a time to commemorate the right to vote, is also an approach on no occasion to consign to oblivion what was consummated to acquire that right. Additionally, it is to influence more people to take part in their rights and seek out movements to obtain more awareness. There are never-ending opportunities to engage in this celebration, from creating change through social media, volunteering in parades/protests, or even becoming more aware of the events regarding the 19th Amendment. This centennial of Women’s Suffrage 2020 honors and outlines the achievements of past suffragists by providing a glimpse into past history while focusing on the issues in the present day and how to get involved and change it for generations to come.

The conflict for African American women still did not cease in August of 1920, attributable to the racism transpiring throughout the country. The women’s suffrage movement is often cast as a white, upper-class women’s movement while overlooking the contributions of black women. Because of this, the Amendment was passed in August of 1920 which still withheld ballots from many women of color until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “With us as colored women, this struggle becomes twofold, first because we are women, and second because we are colored women” [5] stated Mary Burnett Talber, vice president of the National Association of Colored Women. The centennial of women’s suffrage has surfaced as a prominent year of history. Many nationwide protests against racial inequality have forced the United States to once again apprehend its troublesome history. African American women played a pivotal role in securing the Amendment, but were ultimately forgotten amidst the chaos in their efforts. Exhibits across the globe are broadcasting these former lost stories and are bringing forth the significance of the African American crusade. Schools and communities are collaborating through speeches and events adhered on campuses and throughout the community. The centennial grants individuals of any gender, race, and age to transverse in the world of past African American suffragists and abolitionists. For example, in Massachusetts on the Boston Public Gardens, to illustrate Women’s Equality Day, a ceremony was held to commemorate the lives of American American suffragists with manifold guest speakers.[6] In every state, there’s an event commemorating African American suffragists and accentuating the proceeding confrontation. Furthermore, a great deal of the centennial websites have taken the liberty to put forth children’s books and easy-to-read chapter books about the African American suffragist movement to emphasize it at a young age. This year’s centennial celebration is to bring forth further comprehension regarding African American suffragists and salute their accomplishments supplementally throughout history. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that individuals who partake in the celebration to come to be well informed about past history and bring forth widespread talk about continuous inequality. The Centennial of Women Suffragists, apart from being an advocate for African American suffragists, moreover impacts various individuals to assimilate in the continuous fight.

When the 19th Amendment became a reality, women finally became genuine and true American citizens who were able to exercise all of their constitutionally given rights. One of the most prominent aspects of our country is citizenship and what it means to be a citizen. Citizenship is being qualified to have an opinion in the United States and make demands of those governing it. As women, this fight for citizenship has been ongoing and won’t change until all take part in their rights. “Today, only 19.6% of elected officials in Congress are women, and during the 2016 presidential election, one in every three women eligible to vote did not cast a ballot.”[7] Distinctly, 2020 being an election year, individuals all around the world need to exercise their rights as citizens to voice their opinions and perform their duties as citizens. The celebration is to inform not only women, but men as well, about the injustices surrounding gender equality. Everyday, women despite the constitution are spoken to, treated as, and looked at as inferior to men. The inequality ideology remains in some, which is why the fight towards equality will be ongoing. Citizenship is a feeling, a duty, a responsibility, a right, and an understanding for all human beings on the United States soil. The only way to promote change and promote reinforcement is to voice opinions and take advantage of the right that was aggressively fought for for 75 years. The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage advocates the importance of exercising your rights as citizens by virtue of past suffragist efforts.

100 years has passed since the 19th Amendment. Nevertheless, the rights that were laid out in the Constitution are still being questioned. The Centennial of Women’s Suffrage is a fascinating celebration to commemorate past suffragists and their triumphs and downfalls. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be hands-on and take a look at past ancestors and the journey that was fought for decades to get the United States to this point. This celebration is evident throughout the world and in every states’ events, tours, movies, and more that are being hosted throughout this year. This holiday and the events that follow allows individuals across the nation to discover and honor the diligent battle of the suffragists and recognize the power of voting and having a voice in this country. Regardless of this celebration’s ability to honor past efforts, it moreover brings women and all other citizens together to continue the argument of equality. Continuing this fight will facilitate advances in generations to transpire and spread awareness of the injustices that are constantly being swept under the rug. Women have faced cruelty, grievance, and prejudice for over 100 years; this battle won’t be concluded until equality has won. It is not too late to be a participant in the fight to create mass change for women for generations to transpire. Come and help assimilate a part of history.

Notes

[1] “We Invite You to Celebrate With Us,” We Invite You to Celebrate With Us -, June 8, 2020, https://suffrage100ma.org/.
[2] “Woman’s Suffrage History Timeline,” National Parks Service (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2015), https://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/womens-suffrage-history-timeline.htm.
[3] “WVCI,” WVCI, 2020, https://www.2020centennial.org/.
[4]“Home – Shall Not Be Denied,” Shall Not Be Denied, 19th Amendment Centennial 1920-2020, accessed November 4, 2020, https://www.shallnotbedenied.org/.
[5]Jewel Wicker and Illustration by D’Ara Nazaryan, “16 Best Quotes About Women of Color Deserving the Right to Vote,” Teen Vogue, accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/best-quotes-women-right-to-vote.
[6]Anne Borg, “Women’s Equality Day 2019 Invitation,” Women’s Equality Day 2019 Invitation -, August 30, 2019, https://suffrage100ma.org/womens-equality-day-2019/.
[7] “WVCI,” WVCI, 2020, https://www.2020centennial.org/.

Further Reading

Jones, Martha S., Lisa Tetrault, Kimberly A. Hamlin, and Katy June-Friesen. “How Black Suffragists Fought for the Right to Vote and a Modicum of Respect.” The National Endowment for the Humanities. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.neh.gov/article/how-black-suffragists-fought-right-vote-and-modicum-respect.

“Women’s Suffrage.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/not-for-ourselves-alone/womens-suffrage/.

“Suffrage.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.archives.gov/women/suffrage.

“African American Women and the Nineteenth Amendment (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.nps.gov/articles/african-american-women-and-the-nineteenth-amendment.htm.

Worcester State University Fall 2020