2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution. Women started fighting for the vote in 1848 and struggled for 72 years. Suffrage activists mobilized across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, region, and nation. The amendment became part of a movement for voting rights that extended into the 20th. and 21st. centuries.
- The amendment was an important but limited victory. After 1920, access to voting was not guaranteed for all women but a precedent was set.
- Black women in the South faced racial exclusion and, like Black men in the South, were denied strong federal voting protections until 1965.
- Women in the American colonies [Puerto Rico, Philippines, Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam] were not able to vote. Inclusion dates vary.
- Some Native American women had access to the vote after the passage of the Snyder Act in 1924 but practices varied by state until 1965.
- Chinese immigrant women were not guaranteed the vote until 1943.
- Today people face ongoing barriers to voting such as voter ID laws, registration constraints, voting roll purges, less early voting, and other obstacles.
UM will celebrate the fight for the 19th amendment and interrogate its role in the history of struggles to extend the right to vote.
By 1915, women had full voting rights in eleven states clustered in the West. Henry Mayer depicted women rising up as progress moved eastward in this illustration, “The Awakening, for Puck” 1915, held by The Library of Congress.