Changemakers of the Centennial
NOW acknowledges that the journey to the ballot box was – and is – different for a diverse group of voters. To celebrate the centennial, NOW created a social media campaign recognizing 100 “Sisters in Suffrage,” some we know and some who were made invisible. Together they represent the true changemakers responsible for winning women’s right to vote.
Join in our celebration by posting and sharing the Sisters in Suffrage posts, follow along with the hashtags #sistersinsuffrage, #Celebrating100, #righttovote, #somerestrictionsstillapply, #finishthefight and share in the celebration!
100 Campaign – Celebration of Women’s Suffrage and the Right to Vote
August 26, 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which extended the right to vote to all citizens, regardless of sex. Thanks to courageous suffragists, women’s essential right as citizens to vote were finally recognized 144 years after the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that “all men were equal” – but certainly women were not. The suffragists knew how important it was for women to participate in our democracy and to have the power to speak out and act on our behalf. It was, in fact, a revolution.
A History of Diversity in Suffrage Movement
It is important to look to the past in order to push forward with our future endeavors – as a society we owe a lot to the suffragists who disrupted the status quo and helped “finish the fight.” Most of us think of white suffragists in lace collared, dark flowing dresses of the 19th century, or the properly suited sign-carriers of the early 20th century. But the greater truth is that African American women played an enormously important role in organizing, educating, lobbying, and marching for women’s vote. We plan to tell that story.
History books tell us that 19th Amendment grants suffrage to all women. We know that’s not true.
It only makes it illegal to deny the right to vote because of sex. It doesn’t say anything about using poll taxes, property ownership, and so forth.
Racial Prejudice, Violence Block Access to the Ballot
However, the 19th Amendment did not prevent states and individuals from denying access to the ballot box. Out of the South came horrendous Jim Crow laws, adopted after African American men were granted the right to vote by the 15th Amendment in 1870, which used violence to intimidate African Americans. Racial prejudice in the South and in some northern cities and states prevented African American women and men from voting. Only the Voting Rights Act of 1965 guaranteed access to the ballot for Black Americans and other racial groups. Also, Native Americans were not recognized as citizens until 1924 but had to fight state-by-state for decades to able to vote. We know nothing could be further from the truth. The sisters in suffrage are fabulous, diverse, and interesting…diversity, range of colors, and groups.
Since the passage of the amendment did not mean that all women across the country immediately gained the right to vote, we plan to spotlight women post-1920 who stood for the right to vote and worked hard to make voting accessible to all. They strove to end poll taxes, literacy tests and other more recent barriers such as photo ID requirements, limited access to polling places, no early voting and massive purges of the voter rolls.
The Suffrage Work Continues
The journey to the ballot box was different for so many voters and some restrictions still apply. NOW is celebrating with all of this in mind, as we launch our 100 Campaign – Celebration of Women’s Suffrage and the Right to Vote! In the 100 days leading up to August 26, we will share on social media our Sisters in Suffrage, which will include not only the brave suffragists who made the passage of the 19th Amendment possible but also women from marginalized groups – Native, Black, Asian and AAPI, disabled, young, incarcerated, impoverished, Latinx, LGBTQIA+ and many others – who worked and are still working to exercise their right… to vote!
During our social media campaign, a new image will post daily. You can find all of the celebrated women of suffrage as we move through the 100* days on the Sisters In Suffrage.
SUFFRAGE CENTENNIAL EVENTS
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of events celebrating the Suffrage Centennial were planned across the nation. Virtually every state had scheduled exhibits, lectures, parades, monuments and memorials unveiling, and special receptions to honor their states’ suffragists. Many of those have been put on hold and may be re-scheduled.
Later, when possible, we will be compiling and publicizing events, exhibits, and other suffrage-related activities to encourage people to learn about women’s history and to participate in the activities that are re-scheduled to honor the suffragists. You can check a national calendar of events on the website of the Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative, https://www.2020Centennial.org
We encourage chapters to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org about what kinds of events you may be hosting later this year to celebrate women’s right to vote.
- Exhibits, Events Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women Suffrage
- Honoring Our History
- Sisters in Suffrage Recognizing Diversity – National NOW and the Asian American Unity Coalition Civic Leadership USA are proud to present – Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement – the passing of the 19th Amendment extended the right to vote to all citizens, regardless of sex. Enjoy this 75-minute webinar: AAUC Sisters in Suffrage Recognizing Diversity
- The National Archives Foundation and National Archives invite you to join our virtual commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, in which many women won the right to vote. The virtual commemoration is part of our Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote exhibit and initiative. https://www.archivesfoundation.org/women/?goal=0_267af3e1d5-ef64528908-53669831&mc_cid=ef64528908&mc_eid=91c950226d
- Because of Her Story – Women’s Equality Day on August 26 commemorates the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which states the right to vote shall not be denied on account of sex. Holding a series of virtual events for you to participate in.
- Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the certification of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Register here to attend the free event on August 26, 2020.
NOW Local Chapter Events (TBA)
NOW State Events (TBA)
Suffrage Centennial Resources
- The Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative, a collaboration of women-centered institutions, organizations, and scholars from across the U.S., preserves the history of the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and honoring the incredible women who called themselves suffragists. The site maintains an updated calendar of events across the U.S., https://www.2020centennial.org
Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission
- In 2017 Congress passed legislation to establish the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to plan for a “suitable observance of the passage and ratification of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.” The commission is composed of appointees made by each political party and is to continue in operation through April 2021. Congress appropriated $4 million for the commission to perform its duties. The commission holds a public meeting every few months and presents reports to the White House and to Congress, https://www.womensvote100.org/
National Women’s History Museum, online exhibits, including The Path to Women’s Suffrage, https://www.womenshistory.org/resources/lesson-plan/path-womens-suffrage and a timeline of important events and suffragist leaders, https://www.womenshistory.org/resources/timeline/womans-suffrage-timeline
Women’s Suffrage Timeline, another account of important suffrage movement events, followed by a collection of historical photographs and related stories, https://www.thoughtco.com/womens-suffrage-timeline-3530518
We are recommending several great books for readers who want to dig more deeply into women’s suffrage history and the feminist movement of the 19th century. Throughout the next few months, we will be posting reviews of these and other important women’s suffrage books.
SUFFRAGE – Women’s Long Battle for the Vote by Ellen Carol Dubois (Simon & Schuster, 2020) The most recent of suffrage history books by an esteemed historian of the movement.
The Woman’s Hour – The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss (Viking, 2018) A cliff-hanging account of events leading up to the vote in Tennessee, the 36th and final state for ratification.
Votes for Women! A Portrait of Persistence by Kate Clarke LeMay and others with the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Institution, 2019) especially published for the Suffrage Centennial celebration. Beautifully illustrated with hundreds of photographs and important accounts of the suffrage movement.
African American Women and the Struggle for the Vote, 1850 – 1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn (Indiana University Press, 1998) An important account of the troubled history of racism in the women’s suffrage movement and documentation of the importance of determined African American suffragists.