One hundred years ago, men voted to limit their privilege and share their political power. In 1920, American men across the nation voted to approve the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing women’s right to vote.
For one hundred years before that, thousands of women had been marching, protesting, lobbying, and insisting that suffrage was their God-given right as citizens, but standard bearers of the status quo recognized the inherent dangers in admitting that women should have such an equal right; they foresaw the foreboding dilution of their power.
Even so, enough American men voted to do what was right because they understood this suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment as a quintessential American effort firmly grounded in the commitments of the U.S. Constitution “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility . . . promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . ”
In the infant days of our nation, “we the people” meant White Male Landowners. As this nation matured and grew wiser, “We the—Female-Male-White-Brown-Black-Blue-Red-Rich-Poor-Old-Young-Gay-Straight-BornHere-and-GotHereAsSoonAsWeCould—People of the United States” are figuring out that guaranteeing citizens’ rights and expanding the vote does not limit power nor dilute privilege.
Rather we the people are recognizing that we are stronger and smarter together; that it takes all of us “to form a more perfect union.” When we all vote, when we all educate each other about the importance of voting, when we all participate in the process—from City Hall to the Halls of Congress—then we have good cause to celebrate this nation we hold in trust. When we all vote, we do our part to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
This piece was published as a guest column in The Paris News on October 25, 2020. The following paragraphs were included in the newspaper.
A local group Charlotte helped lead, 19th Amendment: Hard Won, Not Done, encouraged her community to Celebrate this important history, Educate about the importance of voting and Activate voters in Lamar County. Here is Charlotte’s thank you to the people who collaborated with us in numerous area events.
Librarians hosted an educational display with book recommendations about the Suffragist Movement at Paris Public Library. Paris City Council issued a proclamation celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment. Lamar County’s Texas Representative flew a flag over the State Capitol Building in honor of the nonpartisan group and our mission to “Celebrate, Educate and Activate.” Lamar County Chamber of Commerce helped us celebrate women-owned enterprises by distributing posters for display at their places of business. Downtown Food Pantry hosted a voter registration drive that educated and activated new voters. A popular 19th Amendment: Hard Won, Not Done Facebook page continues to circulate historical articles and provide information about how and where to vote in Lamar County.