Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Voting Power
Friday, August 21, 2020
This week, we celebrate a historic milestone along the long arc toward justice. A century ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, ensuring the right to vote was no longer withheld based on a person’s gender.
This victory for women’s rights did not come easily. When the suffrage movement first began, it was widely accepted that politics should be the domain of men alone. Suffragists had to turn the tide of public opinion on the radical notion that women should vote; it was a journey that lasted multiple lifetimes.
Even as we laud the passing of this amendment, it’s important to acknowledge that it didn’t win voting rights for all women and functionally excluded many. Women of color still faced substantial obstacles to voting: poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses to name a few. Some historians say that the suffrage movement continued until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed.
YWCA Minneapolis was founded in the midst of the women’s suffrage movement in 1891. This is to say (even with the privileges they may have held) our founders did not have the right to vote or participate in politics. But they did not wait for a voice or place in government – they organized, creating a space to empower women and girls outside the home.
We walk the road that women began paving centuries ago, acknowledging both their challenges and mistakes to build on their work in more inclusive and expansive ways.
As we approach another important election this November, we invite you to commemorate the centennial of this amendment.
What You Can Do:
- Take some time to learn more about our shared history, like the often-overlooked women of color who fought for the vote and what the 19th Amendment meant for Native women.
- If possible, learn more about your family history. Do you know who was the first woman to vote in your family?
- Join an online event: The Suffragist Playbook book discussion on Aug. 25, Marching from Suffrage toward Equality Webinar on Aug. 26, Women Take the Stage concert on Aug. 26 and 100 Years of Women Voting: 2020 Symposium beginning Aug. 27
- Become an Election Judge through YWCA. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
And of course, ensuring you are registered and ready to vote for our election on Nov. 3 pays the highest honor to the women who fought for this right.