Protest and street marches aided Women’s Suffrage movement 100 years ago

Published 12:45 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2020

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There’s a sign beside the E Street entrance to the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library calling attention to this year’s celebration of 100 years of Women’s Suffrage.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which formally granted women the right to vote, was officially adopted August 26, 1920. It was a common-sense change that was long overdue.
From elected leaders to inventors to astronauts and everything in between, America is a stronger and better place thanks to the generations of women who have made some of the most significant contributions to our country and to our lives.
And while the coronavirus pandemic has obviously changed about everything in our day-to-day lives, when it comes to recognizing something as important as ensuring America’s daughters and granddaughters have the right to vote, it deserves to be celebrated.
One hundred years might sound like a long time, but in a historical context, women have only been allowed to vote in national elections for less than half of America’s existence. Women were not allowed to vote for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, or Theodore Roosevelt.
According to, the women’s suffrage movement actually began in 1848, when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, N.Y. For the next 50 years, women’s suffrage supporters worked to educate the public about the validity of women’s suffrage. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment, enfranchising women, was finally ratified. This victory is considered the most significant achievement for women in the Progressive Era. It was the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation’s history, and it was achieved peacefully, through democratic processes.
Also, we need not forget that Tennessee was the 36th state that ratified the 19th Amendment. Congress approved the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919. By the next summer, 35 of the nation’s 48 states had voted to ratify. Eight states rejected it. Three refused to weigh in.
Only two states remain undecided: North Carolina and Tennessee. Just one needed to vote in favor to make women’s suffrage the law of the land.
The battle had been longer and uglier than anyone expected, but in the end Tennessee would, indeed, come through, becoming the 36th and final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment.
And though some would say today that many individuals still might feel disenfranchised, it is hard, among today’s generations, to remember a time when women did not have that right. Institutions like the local library are certain to remind us of this importance.
It is easy to take that right for granted if it comes easily to us, and in some cases, not vote at all. But for all, it is important to remember that many have fought in this country and many still continue to fight to have their voice heard and be part of a democracy.
Women should celebrate this right’s centennial, and we all should remember that it is a right we should respect by exercising it — especially this year, with an important presidential election on the horizon. As women, we should be grateful to these brave and outspoken predecessors for fighting for future generations to ensure they have a voice.
Because of women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and many more, the protests, marches, and tireless work, women here in Elizabethton and across the country know their votes count. Their opinions matter. Their voices are heard.
One hundred years later, Americans again are in the streets of cities all across the country protesting. And the protests are still about rights that are affected by all the currents of history, social movements and economics, and injustices that are coursing through the country.
Again, voices need to be heard!

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