Voting Rights For Women Wasnt all for Women
For Black Women, the story of voting is a long one, Very early on at the dawn of the 19th century they are already at work on a political philosophy that decries racism and sexism in American politics, but constitutionally speaking, it begins with the 15th Amendment because black women also need a race to be an impermissible criterion if they are to get to the polls. Sojourner Truth is a name people might know. The former slave, antislavery activist, and women's rights. Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Poet, Anti Slavery Lecturer. We also have figures like Nannie Helen Burroughs. Ida B. Wells Was another prominent activist that people don't necessarily associate with the suffrage movement, but she was. Black Women never find a very comfortable home in women's suffrage associations.
Racism is always present, sometimes in very pronounced ways. There were pictures of parades, marches women dressed up in the late 19th, early 20th-century victorian gear, hats, large hats, carrying signs about votes for women, and most of these images are white women. These figures are a remarkable duo of women-Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony… and those two women will take us to the 19th Amendment. In August of 1920, the state of Tennessee will, by a mere one vote, ratify the 19th Amendment, an amendment that prohibits the states from using sex criteria for voting, and it will become a part of the constitution. And American Women win the right to vote so for white women. It was the end of a long fight. But for many black women, It was just the beginning of an upheaval battle to exercise those rights. African American Women are aware, but really everyone is that nothing in the 19th Amendment will prohibit individual states from continuing to disenfranchise black voters. So in the first election that they had after the bill passed. The white women were going to vote and when they went down to the voting polls. They weren't able to vote. They gave them a lot of reasons or excuses for why not to vote. So they stayed in retaliation and asked why they couldn't vote.
The answers to the questions were so invalid that they were very unsatisfied. Finally, Mrs. Simons, said, "Are you saying we can't vote because we're Negroes?" and the person in the voting polls said, "yes, Negroes don't vote in primary in Texas." It hurt their hearts real bad. So the 19th Amendment even as we mark this anniversary. It leaves many American women to continue the struggle for political rights, including the vote. And African American women are one chapter or facet of that history. There's nothing in the 19th Amendment that guarantees Chinese Immigrant women the option. There's nothing in the 19th Amendment that guarantees to Native American women the vote. Latin X women, particularly Mexican Americans, Also occupy an ambiguous place in the story of voting rights. For Black women, the right to vote is symbolic. And that's not to diminish symbolism, it's to say that the right to vote is a sign that they are full and equal citizens of the United States. African American women are facing the challenges of racial violence, lynching, and access to the polls. African women are looking at a range of inequalities, economic inequalities, housing inequalities, health inequalities, educational inequalities, and access to the ballot is a lever in those struggles.
It is the gateway to sitting on juries. It is the gateway to office holding. Black women have a plan, and it is an ambitious one, they hoped the vote would help them further. It wasn't easy to get people to come out to go try and register to vote because the first they went, they had a circle around the courthouse of pickup trucks and rifles and white people, getting ready to stop them. Only four people managed to get in. What did the white people have to fear from so many blacks registering? If they became a registered voter, many of the blacks would seek positions in the political field. They would be out. They would fight for justice if they were written, voters. They would turn the city entirely around, which is why they did not want to see black people become registered voters. What black women want in the wake of the 19th Amendment is federal legislation. That will now protect their voting rights… to impose on those states with a history of disenfranchising black voters, an additional requirement.
Black women would wage a campaign that would take them all the way to 1965 and passage of the voting rights act. It's important to say that winning the voting rights Act in that year is a brutal, brutal campaign. Black Americans, women, and men put their lives on the line in too many southern jurisdictions to force Congress's hand to move the needle of Lyndon Johnson to win voting rights for legislation. This is not an easy road for African American women. It is a difficult road.
It is indeed a victory that black women had been looking for, for nearly a half a century. "I know that my grandmother raised my mother, that they always had to vote like it was something she was born in. My grandmother, Susie Jones. I am very accountable to her." Bertha And George Huston. Why do we know about this history? Today we lived in an era of voter suppression. Laws that are neutral on their face. Voter I.D requirements or the purging of voter rolls, or the shuttering of polling places, none of which announce that they aim to keep voters of color, women of color from the polls. But when we look at these laws in practice, we can recognize that like in 1920, in 2020, seemingly neutral laws are being used to disproportionately keep people of color away from the polls. "By running as a political office and effecting change on the ground in their communities in their states," we now have black women running for governorships. And we have several African Americans that we've seen has shaped elections. So I believe that the idea of that enfranchisement is also expanded to not just being able to vote but even exercising political power and exercising political agency. I think that's the legacy of the suffrage movement to me, there are not women who dropped out of the sky. These are women who come out of political tradition and are building upon that. And will tell you that if you ask them. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed.