by Marguerite Kearns
The 19th amendment to the US constitution in 1920 is attributed to the hard work, determination, and actions of tens of thousands of women who smiled and dialed and didn’t give up for generations. See https://billmoyers.com/story/the-mother-of-all-celebrations/
The so-called failure of the 100th anniversary to the US constitution didn’t come easy in the first place. Votes for all women. We can wax lyrically about the pandemic in 2020 and how US women are still considered second-class citizens. But let’s get real. There are many reasons to celebrate this enormous nonviolent accomplishment. In 2010, it appeared as if the US civil war would take over the nation’s attention in 2020, not the 100 years that American women have been voting.
In 2010 and for the next decade, a handful of highly motivated women and their allies persisted. I was one of them. We pounded on invisible drums until the word was spread, high and low, in and out. There wasn’t one face representing what many refer to as the first wave of the suffrage movement. There were hundreds of votes for women organizations at the turn of the 20th century. My grandmother Edna was among them. My mother was in the first generation of women who voted. She recruited her entire family to support women voting, as this website demonstrates. We have been publishing since 2009.
When I was ten years old, few in my elementary school ever heard the word “suffrage” or had any idea what it meant. I describe this in the book “An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights.” It was published by SUNY Press in 2021. The first wave of US women’s suffrage leaders were aware that their struggle would be conducted in the midst of a slowly evaporating racist future.
We still live in a racist culture, although it’s substantially different than the one Edna Buckman Kearns faced when she smiled and dialed from the desk of her Rockville Centre home in 1915. See photo above.
The 2020 celebrations of the long and agonizing and miserable struggle to win the right to vote for US women may not have held a candle to other celebrations of noteworthy struggles to increase human and civil rights but we persisted. Sure, we’re still considered second-class citizens, but we’re standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us, we’re carrying on the work, and we’re passing a torch to the future. It has always been this way. And we support a front-line struggle stretching into the future.
Support an equal rights amendment to the US Constitution. In 2023 we’re observing the 100 years that US citizens have devoted to this task.
Make sure that you celebrate August 26th in some way. It’s Women’s Equality Day. It isn’t a national holiday yet, but it should be. Stay tuned!