Suffrage is Unfinished Business—On The 101 Anniversary of the 19th Amendment by Marie Cartier

Dear FAR readers – please find photos from a celebration of the 101 anniversary of women’s suffrage, the 19th Amendment, that I attended August 26, 2021. That day marks the end of the 100th year of women having the right to vote.

I have been proud to be a part of, these past few years, a group calling themselves Suffrage in California – LBSuffrage100 Suffrage 100. We have met continuously in person and on line for two years now, stymied by the pandemic, but still pushing forward throughout this year with actions at the Democratic Convention, Long Beach Suffrage 100 celebrates in silence for centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment – Press Telegram, standing in silence as the original suffragettes did outside the White House. We also of course marked the 100th anniversary of suffrage, and at that time switched focus during the election to lobby for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, part of the “unfinished business” of suffrage.  Text – H.R.4 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress which seeks to expand federal ability to challenge discriminatory election rules.

California was a leader in suffrage, giving women the right to vote a full nine years before the US did. History of Women’s Suffrage in California :: California Secretary of State California was the 6th state in the nation to give women the right to vote.

Suffragettes and their supporters gathered in front of the site of the Hotel Virginia, where suffrage for California women was won in 1911, then travelled to have tea at the historic Bembridge House. History – Long Beach Heritage (lbheritage.org)

Why tea? It is interesting to note that at the time of the suffrage fight, women were not allowed to gather in public spaces. Tea houses were one of the very, very few exceptions. Tea Happiness- A blog on tea drinking, tea history, tea industry interviews, NYC tea experiences!: Tea And Women’s Suffrage (tea-happiness.com)

I’ve been proud to be part of Long Beach 100, 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage (longbeach.gov) largely spearheaded by Zoe Nicholson Zoe Nicholson, who ran the Magic Speller Bookstore. In 1976, Zoe opened and operated The Magic Speller Bookstore, a women’s bookstore in Newport Beach, CA.  In 1982 she joined six women in Springfield, Illinois., in a public and political fast for 37 days in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. About Zoe – Zoe Nicholson The Equal Rights Amendment is another part of “the unfinished business” of suffrage.

There is so much to learn and know about this history- including the racism Women’s Suffrage, Racism and Intersectionality | Anti-Defamation League (adl.org)at the time and in the movement, divisions, and also heroism, particularly by those suffragettes who did hunger strikes Suffragists used hunger strikes as a powerful tool of resistance – a tactic still employed by protesters 100 years on (theconversation.com)in the prison. Unlearning History: The Women’s Suffrage Movement | PBS Education

A series which covers so much of the movement was released this year on PBS- you can still catch it here: Watch The Vote | American Experience | Official Site | PBS. And learn more here: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment | National Archives

What I think, first and foremost, is most important to recognize about this struggle is the language. No one gave or granted women the right to vote. Women fought for the right to vote and won it.

Women weren’t given the right to vote. They took it.

Today we celebrate that victory.

*All images by author.

Bio

Marie Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine.



Categories: General, Sexism, Social Justice, Women and Work, Women's Power, Women's Rights, Women's Suffering, Women's Voices

Tags: , ,

9 replies

  1. Beautifully written Marie. Thank you Bridge Sister Feminist. I’m so grateful for You and Lovely Wise Zoe and all of the Brave Suffragette Sisters who fiercely advocated for our and our daughter’s equality.
    You have my heart and gratitude.
    Yvonne

    Like

  2. As usual, wonderful photos. I’m so glad you carry your camera (apparently everywhere!) and use it to such good advantage.

    And thanks for this report on the modern movement. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed since, say, 1910, before the 19th Amendment was passed. (I bet certain politicians would just love to shove us all back there. Ya think??) Good for you and Zoe (I have some masks she sewed) and all the other smart, brave women. Never give up!

    The PBS series is indeed good. I recommend it to anyone who reads your post. And, incidentally, I’ve been to the Bembridge House. I saw a play there a few years ago.

    Bright blessings, my friend, to you and all the splendid work you do for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post and for your work to expand suffrage, Marie. Suffrage will take time to be complete, because there are those who win when others lose, especially now with gerrymandering and voting suppression. Your post reminded me of two things:
    Number one: Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th amendment. Yay!! and
    Number two: A song about suffrage in Wisconsin. Here are the lyrics. I think you’ll enjoy them.

    Boys:
    I’ve been down t Madison
    To see the folks and sights:
    You’d laugh, I’m sure, to hear them talk
    About the women’s rights.
    Now tis just as plain as my old hat,
    That’s plain as plain can be
    That if the women want the vote,
    They’ll get no help from me.

    Not rom Joe, not from Joe,
    If he knows it, not from Joseph!
    No, no, no, not from Joe,
    Not from me, I tell you no!

    Girls:
    Say, friend Joseph, why not we
    Should vote as well as you?
    Are there no problems in the State
    That need our wisdom too?
    We must pay our taxes same as you,
    As citizens be true;
    And if some wicked thing we do,
    To jail we’re sent by you.

    Yes we are, same as you,
    And you know it, don’t you Joseph?
    Yes you do, yet you boast,
    You’ll not help us win the vote.

    Boys:
    But, dear women, can’t you see,
    Your home is your trues sphere?
    Just think of going to the polls
    Perhaps two times a year!
    You are wasting time you ought to use
    In sewing and at work,
    Your home neglected all those hours —
    Would you such duties shirk?

    Help from Joe? Help from Joe?
    If he knows it, not from Joseph!
    No, no, no, not from Joe,
    Not from me, I tell you no!

    Girls:
    Joseph, tell us something new,
    We’re tired of that old song:
    We’ll sew the seams and cook the meals,
    To vote won’t take us long.
    We will help clean house, the one too large
    For man to clean alone,
    The State and Nation, don’t you see,
    When we the vote have won.

    Yes we will, and you’ll help,
    For you’ll need our help, friend Joseph,
    Yes you will, when we’re in.
    So you’d better help us win.

    Boys:
    You’re just right, how blind I’ve been,
    I ne’er had seen it thus;
    ‘Tis true that taxes you must pay
    Without a word of fuss;
    You are subject to the laws men made
    And yet not word or note
    Can you sing out where it will count —
    I’LL HELP YOU WIN THE VOTE!

    Yes I will [Girls]: Thank you Joe
    [All]: We’ll together soon be voters;
    Yes we will, if you’ll all
    Vote “Yes” at the polls next fall.

    From the original sheet music, pub. by
    Busy World Publishing Col, Madison,
    Wish., 1912

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Suffrage is unfinished business. Thank you for all you do FAR

    Like

  5. Thanks for a great post with all your fine photos. Celebrate and keep fighting! Hard to believe we find ourselves in such danger again.

    Like

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