One hundred years ago, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution finally passed all the hurdles it had, and became enshrined law. It said, simply:
“The right of the 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.”
Generations of women had worked for this law. Women and allies went to the streets to protest and solicit support; they were arrested, beaten, thrown in jail or asylums, force-fed, and some died for the cause. Thousands of Pennsylvanian women were among the suffragists.
Of course, there were hurdles yet to come. Women of color, especially Black women, were still denied the right to vote. Further laws in the 1960s and 1970s were required to bring all women – including indigenous women – to the polling places. So when we celebrate “100 years of women voting” this year, we need to be honest and point out that it is actually 100 years of white women voting. Our sisters of color were largely left behind by the original suffragists, much as women of color today are often left behind by white feminism, and why we need an intersectional lens in all of our activism.
With that said, we at Three Rivers Community Foundation want to spend 2020 examining the lives of some of the Pittsburgh-area suffragists who worked tirelessly to gain the vote. We’ll be blogging mini biographies of them throughout the year as a way to honor their struggles. But, we’re sure that we don’t know all of them, so please feel free to send us the names of your favorite Pittsburgh suffragists via email or on our Facebook page!
Our friends over at Pittsburgh Mayors have also devised a lovely-looking website with information on the work that women did in Pennsylvania to gain the right to vote. Go check it out!
Are you registered to vote?
Here’s how you do it!
Last day to register to vote for the Primary: April 13, 2020
Pennsylvania’s Primary Election Day: April 28, 2020
Last day to register to vote for the General election: October 19, 2020
General Election Day: November 3, 2020
By: Anne E. Lynch, Executive Director, here decked out in a Suffrage Scarf locally made by Dancing Dragonflies by Carolyn