It was 100 years ago this month that American women were granted the constitutional right to vote.
It was a long and arduous fight that began in the 1800s, with women organizing, petitioning and picketing for their right to vote. The 19th Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878, but it wouldn't be until more than four decades later — Aug. 18, 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment and send it for certification later that month by the secretary of state — that their dream would become a reality.
Let's not forget what those women went through to fight for this right. They worked tirelessly, day and night, for years, to make their voices heard. Some went on hunger strikes. Some were jailed. Some were verbally and physically attacked and abused.
Let's also not forget that the fight for women's right to vote didn't stop after August 1920, and advocates continued the battle for the next several decades. In reality, the 19th Amendment largely afforded middle-class white women that right. Native American women wouldn't even become American citizens until 1924, and voting rights specifically for Black women and other women of color weren't enshrined in law until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Women's right to vote is the hard-won outcome of the work of thousands of women, too many to name in this space and many whose names are likely unknown by most at this point. Of those who are remembered by history, we credit women such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul, white women who were at the forefront of picket lines, organizing protests and giving fiery speeches. We also tip our hat to women including Mary McLeod Bethune, the daughter of former slaves and eventual vice president of the NAACP who risked racist attacks to launch voter registration drives in the 1920s, and Ida B. Wells, who helped found Chicago's Alpha Suffrage Club to register thousands of Black women to vote.
Even today, 100 years later, another group of women is working nationwide to prioritize voting rights. The League of Women Voters — which is actually open to people of all genders, despite having "women" in its name — consistently works to support voting rights, saying that "voting is a fundamental right, and all eligible voters should have the equal opportunity to exercise that right."
As we celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment this month, we salute those who made it happen and those who are still working today to ensure that voting is a right afforded to everyone.