This year marks the 100th anniversary since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the constitutional right to vote. After more than 72 years of fighting and lobbying, Congress approved the Women’s Suffrage Amendment on June 4, 1919. Over a year later, the Nineteenth Amendment was set in law, enfranchising all American women and declaring they had citizenship rights equal to men.
The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and nearly 100 other participants, mostly women, gathered to draft the “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions.”
This declaration mirrored the preamble of the Declaration of Independence. Yet, it differentiated that “all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
After the Civil War, two prominent women activists groups came about; The National Woman Suffrage Association founded by Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, as well as the American Woman Suffrage founded by Lucy Stone. For decades the two groups worked opposed to one another, for they could not mutually agree on a plan that was not racially divisive and supported federal initiatives.
By 1890, the two groups merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. They worked to garner voting rights in several states long before federal recognition. The official ratification of the Amendment took place on August 26, 1920, when the U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Tennessee state legislature’s approval.
Today women not only have the right to vote but are charting unprecedented territory throughout political offices. The recent announcement of Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice presidential nominee sent shock waves around the nation. Harris is the second Black American candidate and the eleventh woman to vie for the vice-presidential candidate. Charlotta Bass was the first Black woman to run for the national office as a member of the Progressive party in 1952. Harris also stands as the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate and the second in history.
The underrepresentation of women throughout this country’s political infrastructure perpetuates inequality. Nonetheless, it also leaves space for many future historic breakthroughs for women, starting with the November 3rd presidential campaign. Be sure to check your local ballots to learn about women running for office in your community and the issues they stand for. Lastly, to register to vote, check the status of your registration, or locate your polling precinct, please visit registertovote. sos.ga.gov. Voter registration for the state of Georgia ends October 5, 2020.