100 years of Women’s Voting Rights


Newspaper Clip from Tennessee on August 19th, 1920 regarding the fight for women’s suffrage. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:19200819_Suffrage_vote_(Tennessee)_-_Nineteenth_Amendment_-_The_Washington_Times.jpg

Scarlett Price, Editor/Announcements

Today marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.  After a century of voting, the hard fought battle of the early suffragists enables women throughout the nation to champion causes of equity and equality. With all of the political and social unrest occurring in the world today, voting is one of the most important ways to make an impact.

The 1920s is prominent for being the Jazz Age and Roaring ‘20s, but behind all the excitement and partying, women were trying to gain voting rights. In fact, women have been trying to obtain voting rights since the 1800s. In 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Candy Stanton founded the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. Their journey between 1869 to 1920 was a long and challenging process, seeing many conventions to get support from politicians themselves, only to be rejected the majority of the time. They actually went to the Supreme Court to set the motion, which became known as Minor vs. Happersett. But like the previous missions, the Supreme Court ruled that women were not included in the Fourteenth Amendment. 

However, this disruption did not deter the women. In 1908, the NAWSA had their first march on August 27th in San Francisco, where they ended up with 300 women marching for their voting rights. Two years later, they had their first parade in New York, and states started to grant women’s suffrage. Things started to change for the better when Teddy Roosevelt added suffrage to his campaign for presidency. When World War I started, the NAWSA aligned itself with the war effort to gain support for the cause. This plan worked because when the war was over, congress voted for women’s suffrage many times. They obtained a  ⅔rds vote on June 4th, 1920 and the nineteenth amendment was ratified a few months later on August 18th, allowing women to vote in political elections. 

Recent graduate Maria Johanne Therese Pedroso, turned 18 in October. When asked about her knowledge on women’s suffrage, she replied, “I was interested when I was in school and it’s interesting now because obviously, for the longest time women weren’t able to vote and weren’t able to voice out what they are able to contribute to the country, so I thought it was really really cool when they were finally able to get the right to vote.”

She believes that as much as it is important to vote nationally, it is also important to share your voice locally because “… The ideals of the local leaders are eventually going to be able to help how, for example, the city runs, or one aspect of that state runs.” Pedroso explains, “I feel like, nationally…the votes are for the electoral college for the president.”

In politics, your voice tends to be remembered by how you share it. It is important to be able to have a conversation with somebody with a different opinion than yours. Pedroso says, “Be able to have your own opinion, be able to debate in a healthy manner with people who don’t have the same opinion as you, but be able to understand where they are coming from.”

While white American women could vote when the nineteenth amendment was ratified, African American women still were not able to. Principal Valerie Hatcher references A League Of Their Own as an analogy. “Have you seen that scene where the ball rolled out to some African American women, and one of them got the ball and threw it back? … That was an acknowledgement that, yes, women were playing baseball but African American women weren’t playing baseball… there was a group that was left out. It’s very important there is not only gender equality but racial equality.” 

Susan B Anthony took a aggressive approach when it  came to women’s voting rights. But it seems that was the only vote she wanted, she said,”I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”  The nineteenth amendment did empower some women of color from the north to vote, but the southern African American women were denied.  The government did not want African Americans to vote, so they placed poll taxes, enforced the Grandfather clause, and other legal strategies.  Activists Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Amelia Boynton, and Diane Nash fought for the right for women of color to vote in the south.  They spoke publically, got the attention of supporters, and finally there hard word was payed off in 1965. Congress passed The 1965 Voting Rights Act, which offered voting rights protection and removed everything blocking African American Women voting.

Voting is a way of speaking your voice, and being heard. Just like women shared their voices in the 1920s, we need to now, whether or not we like our options. Hatcher explains, “It is so important to exercise that right [voting]. I often ask people, ‘Do you vote?’ and they say, ‘no’ and I reply with, ‘So it would be okay for them to take your vote away because you don’t use it. You would be okay with surrendering your right to vote.’ They respond with, ‘No, I don’t want to surrender my right to vote.’ That’s why it’s important to vote.” She indicates, “How else can someone hear your voice if you don’t exercise your rights?” 

“We need to maintain our voice as women, as all women… we still need to exercise the right. We don’t want to go backwards like other countries where women don’t have the right to vote,” said Hatcher.

Pedroso states, I think as of now, women [should] just continue to be educated…[then] the future might eventually change.”