Tuesday, August 17, 2010
|automat -- |
For the first 144 years of this country's existence, women were not guaranteed the right to vote -- and winning that right did not come easily.
Women's suffrage took a movement. It took organizers who worked tirelessly and allies who fought for the cause in the halls of power. On August 18th, 1920, when the legislature of the state of Tennessee voted to ratify the 19th Amendment and affirm its place in the Constitution, it passed by a single vote.
Because of the work of those who came before me, my right to cast a ballot was never in question. From the first time that I stepped into a voting booth to the day when I became the executive director of the Democratic Party, I've been deeply mindful of that fact.
Last week, President Obama asked us all to make a commitment to vote this fall. To me, that promise isn't just about choosing the direction I hope to see this country take -- it's an opportunity to honor those who didn't have the right to vote but fought so that their daughters and granddaughters would not be denied the full measure of citizenship.
Will you join me and commit to vote in this year's election?
The movement for suffrage began before the Civil War. Women faced prison sentences -- even beatings -- to cast ballots as a gesture of protest. Even before the right to vote was won, women like Victoria Woodhull and Belva Lockwood ran for office. States across the country began to grant suffrage, and on the eve of the First World War, Woodrow Wilson -- a Democrat -- became the first president to take up the call.
Susan B. Anthony devoted her life to the cause of equality, and in 1897, decades before her fight was won, she wrote "Suffrage is the pivotal right." In the 90 years since the 19th Amendment became law, that statement has borne out.
Today, in the United States, there are more women registered to vote than men, and the gap stands at nearly 10 million. From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, women hold office at every level of government.
But the fight for full equality is not finished. In 2008, a woman in the United States earned only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For women of color, the disparity is even greater.
We have a choice with this election about whether we want to continue the fight to bring down barriers -- whether we want to move forward or backward. We'll decide whether we want to honor the legacy of those who couldn't vote but reached for that right. But all those decisions begin with the promise that you will participate in the fall elections.
Commit to vote:
Jen O'Malley Dillon
Democratic National Committee
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