Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Birthday 19th Amendment!

90 years ago today the 19th Amendment--the one that allowed women the right to vote--was formally ratified as part of the constitution. And so today, August 26, is officially EQUALITY DAY.

Now, I must confess that were it not from an email I received from "Women's Voices, Women Vote" I would not have realized the significance of this date--here's the text of their email:

"Ninety years ago, one mother's plea to her son helped pass the 19th Amendment by one vote and gave American women the vote. After thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states had ratified the amendment, the battle came to Nashville, Tennessee. One young legislator, 24 year-old Harry Burns, had previously voted with the anti-suffrage forces. But a telegram from his mother urging him to vote for the amendment and for suffrage made the difference. Burns broke a 48 to 48 tie making Tennessee the 36th and deciding state to ratify. One vote does matter. Your vote matters. Today, even though women turnout at equal or great numbers than men on election day, more than one in four American women is still not registered to vote. If you're one of them, celebrate Equality Day today by visiting Women's Voices. Women's Vote website and registering to vote. If you are already registered, use your voice to talk to five women you know about the importance of voting."

Page Gardner, president of "Women's Voices, Women's Vote" also has a piece on their website that talks about the significance of Equality Day, and the debt we owe to Alice Paul, one of the leading suffragist who literally put her body on the line to fight for the right of women to vote.

There is a lot I take for granted--voting is one of them. So I appreciate WVWV reminding me that this right was won by the struggles and labor and, in some cases, blood of other women.

As for the phrase "Equality Day," well, my own thought is: shouldn't every day be Equality Day? Not just in terms of gender, but really shouldn't we recognize the rights of all need to be central and thus we should really work to make everyday EQUALITY DAY for everyone.

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