Today is Women’s Equality Day as well as the centennial anniversary of women's right to vote. After almost seventy years of suffragist agitation, the hard-won victory and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution took place on August 26, 1920. For the first time, American citizens could no longer be prohibited from voting based on gender.
This anniversary is a widely celebrated milestone in American history, and it truly was a pivotal accomplishment, but like many other decisions made during that time, it favored white, middle-class women over all women. Due to racial discriminatory Jim Crow and immigration laws, BIPOC women were denied voting rights.
In fact, it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that the federal government prohibited racial discrimination in voting, thus making it available to all women regardless of their background or skin color – 45 years after their white counterparts. Shockingly, the fight continues today as we, all across the nation, battle discriminatory practices that disproportionately affect people of color.
As we deal with the global pandemic and the racial unrest that continues to plague our country, voting has never been more critical. We are arguably facing the most consequential election of our time. It is our duty and our right to make our voices count and empower leaders who advocate for the equality of all people. Our votes are voices in action.
On November 3, 2020, millions of Americans will mobilize to help write the next chapter in our history. Casting or sending in our ballot, however, is not just electing the person we want to represent the White House; it also represents our stance on reproductive and civil rights; racial, climate and economic justice. A true democracy exists when we all participate, and as voters, it's our job to advocate for the issues that matter most.
With only 68 days left until Election Day, we’ve gathered inspiring words from 10 female changemakers who marched, sacrificed and resisted the system to provide women the freedoms that we have today. When we exercise our right to vote this year, we'll do so by remembering the spirit of these powerful ladies. We'll vote like our rights depend on it (because they do!).
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
― Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, antislavery activists and safe house known as the Underground Railroad.
"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry."
― Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social-political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and a spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.."
― Elizabeth Cady Staton, suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement.
"Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less."
― Susan B. Anthony, social reformer and women's rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement.
"I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality."
― Alice Paul, suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders and strategists of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
― Angela Davis, feminist, scholar, political activist and author who emerged as a prominent counterculture activist in the 1960s.
"I cannot help wondering sometimes what I might have become and might have done if I had lived in a country which had not circumscribed and handicapped me on account of my race, that had allowed me to reach any height I was able to attain."
– Marry Church Terrell, first African-American woman to earn a college degree, and became known as a national activist for civil rights and suffrage.
"A wife should no more take her husband's name than he should hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost."
– Lucy Stone, early advocate of antislavery and women's rights who is known for keeping her own name after marriage.
“If women want rights more than they got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it.”
– Sojourner Truth, African American evangelist, abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author who lived a miserable life as a slave.
"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of the truth upon them."
– Ida B. Wells-Barnett, investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Don’t forget to check your registration status at VOTE.ORG. In California and most states, vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed to each vote prior to November 3, 2020, in addition to offering in-person voting locations. In Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana, voting by mail if only permitted with a "valid" excuse (the pandemic doesn’t count).