Fight to vote went on for some women
I am writing to say thank you, Lynne Wilson, for your guest column celebrating the 19th Amendment, a whole century of women being able to vote in America. You reminded us that protests, lobbying, arrests, prison time, beatings and even force feedings are not unique to our generation or to this century. I am grateful for the women of history who were strong enough and relentless enough to keep pushing for America to truly live out our ideals of justice among equals and equality for all.
But wait — did ALL women gain the right to vote? No! The reality is that women of color do NOT celebrate Aug. 18, 1920, as their victory day for voting. Even after the 19th Amendment was ratified, Black women were stopped at the doors of the polling places by unreasonable poll taxes, by convoluted literacy tests that most elected leaders would not be able to pass. Women of color who dared to pay the tax, pass the test and stand in line to vote were insulted. Some lost their jobs as the result of voting. Some of these brave women were beaten and possibly.
Your article, Ms. Wilson, does justice to the struggles and victory of white women to achieve the right to vote. But wait — is that the whole story? No! Black women had to wait until the 1965 Voting Right Act to achieve the same thing that white women got in 1920. In truth, Aug. 18 is a celebration of white women’s ability to convince white men to do the right thing, at last.
That’s good but that’s not the whole story. White people don’t own the only, single version of what American life has been and is all about. It’s time for us to remember that there is more to history than what white people write about themselves.
Being a white woman, I can’t speak for people of other colors, but I can tell you what I hear in the current protests and marches. I hear those who have been left out of history books, those who are ignored at celebrations, overlooked, unnamed and disrespected. I hear Black people saying: “Our stories matter, too. Remember us. Include us. Listen to us.”
I’m OK with that. Are you?