To the Editor:
On August 26 — Women’s Equality Day — the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard will again partner with Martha’s Vineyard Museum, whose archives hold photographs and materials of the Vineyard’s contributions to the passage of the 19th Amendment. The exterior will be illuminated in purple, white, and sunflower gold, the colors that came to represent the women’s suffrage movement for equal voting rights.
In 2020, people all over the U.S. commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the certification by Congress of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920 — after a decades-long campaign solidifying for women the power of the vote. Even with that revolutionary victory, it still took another four decades for all women in the U.S. to get the right to vote:
- 1924, Native American women, Indian Citizenship Act, with some states barring Native Americans from voting until 1957
- 1943, Chinese immigrant women, Magnuson Act
- 1952, First-generation Japanese women, McCarren-Walter Act
- 1965, African American women, Voting Rights Act
This year, as we recognize Women’s Equality Day, women have fewer rights than we have had in decades — in fact, we are far from equal in our democracy.
We are reminded of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments*, patterned explicitly on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, asserting that “all men and women are created equal.” That document further stated, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her” — and insisting that women receive “immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States.”
Now, 174 years later, our government should not only represent us but include us as equals. Our lawmakers should pass voting rights legislation, add the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and restore reproductive freedoms.
Our democracy depends on each of us to identify and correct gender inequality. The League of Women Voters ask each of us to not just support women’s equality and rights — but to protect the equality of all citizens of the U.S.
As we enjoy the vibrant colors of the women’s suffrage movement lighting the walls of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum on the evening of August 26, we honor the many strong women who fought so long — and still do fight — for our rights.
League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard
* Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention, 1848, National Woman Suffrage Association. Noun: suffrage; the right to vote in political elections. The women’s suffrage movement dedicated efforts in the 1800s to early 1900s to securing suffrage at the state and federal level.