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.
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.