By Michelle Chandra, Communications Associate, Women’s Foundation of California
Today, August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day, a national holiday to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. But the US government would never have recognized the political equality of women and men if it hadn’t been for the 70 years of organizing by women suffragists
In a recent NY Times column, Gail Collins gives a quick overview of this hard-won battle, which began in 1848, a battle which included:
- “480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters,
- 47 campaigns to get constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions;
- 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks [endorsements],
- 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms
- and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”
That’s a lot of organizing!
It’s easy to forget the importance of voting, easy to forget the women and men who spent years organizing for this right. For many of us under thirty, we simply grow up, turn eighteen, and cast ballots and participate in the election process. The right to vote doesn’t come with a history lesson on the importance of this right.
So what does the right to vote mean today? As a San Franciscan, it’s important to vote because I want to be part of deciding the fate of the countless propositions on our ballots. I also want to honor the organizing that earned women’s right to vote.
Seventy years is a lifetime, and none of the original suffragist activists, except one, lived long enough to witness this victory, never mind cast a ballot. When we head to the polling stations this fall, we should remember those women and men and cast our ballots in their honor.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab the Women’s Foundation of California Voter’s Guide, which will be out in the fall prior to the November elections.
What about you? What does the right to vote today mean to you?