We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever.
— Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876
Today is the 88th Anniversary of passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment – the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Tonight, the woman who nearly became her party’s candidate for President of the United States will celebrate this fact.
Pay attention, dear daughters and sisters: full equality is still not yet ours. And for less than one hundred years have we had the right to choose our leaders, or even, ourselves, lead.
We did not win these rights easily, either. Our grandmothers paid dearly for this struggle. Many devoted their entire adult lives to the cause, and died before they saw their dreams fulfilled. They endured humiliation, discrimination, jail, and worse, so that we could enjoy the same rights as white and African-American men. The Constitutional amendment that granted us our right to vote in 1920 was carried by only one vote.
And make no mistake. The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee women the same rights as men. Women are still paid less on the job and charged more for everything from dry cleaning to insurance. The value of a woman’s unpaid work in the home is often not taken into account in determining divorce settlements and pension benefits.
In 1776, Abigail Adams urged her husband, John, that he and the other founders of our government should, “Remember the ladies.”
John Adams, who went on to become our second president, responded, “Depend upon it. We know better than to repeal our masculine systems,” and so women were left out of the Constitution.
Today, Euphrosyne, Grace of the joyful mind and festivity, would recommend that we celebrate the great gifts that have come to our nation thanks to the empowerment of women voters.
If you are not registered to vote, get in gear! You have no excuse (unless you’re a convicted felon, or underage, or not a citizen). Celebrate the enormous sacrifices of our grandmothers by remembering them with gratitude.
Better yet, honor them by stepping into your own power and responsibility, as a guiding voice for our nation’s future.