Celebrating the 19th Amendment in an Historic Year

by Vivian Aguayo, Chair, Health Focus Area Committee

On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation certifying the ratified 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Groundbreaking and the result of the hard work and dedication of the women (and men) that formed the women’s suffrage movement. One hundred years later today, we celebrate this historic event, but there may be even more to celebrate this year. 

2020 has been, in many ways, an unbelievable year. Crisis, tragedy and outcries for social justice have swept across this country in equal measure. Even in the midst of all of this uncertainty, youth are more engaged in civic duty and activism now than ever before. You can almost imagine suffragettes of the past smiling down on the empowered young women of today leading change and taking action on their hopes for the future.

No matter on what side of the aisle you find yourself, something momentous and perhaps even poetic has also taken place in the year 2020. This year, Senator Kamala Harris made history as the first Black and South Asian woman to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination. What would not have been possible one hundred years ago is now taking place on the world stage. That, however, is not the entire story. 

The truth is, even after the passing of the 19th Amendment, women of color would not have been guaranteed their right to vote. Poll taxes, grandfather clauses, intimidation and violence prevented people of color from voting until President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Forty five years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian women were finally guaranteed that their right to vote would be protected by law.

Now, one hundred years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment and fifty five years after the passing of the Voting Rights Act, women are once again, making history. Cheers to the women of the past and present, being the change they want to see in the world.