LWVLA Leaders Consider Suffrage and the 19th Amendment
On Limited Suffrage: A Letter to the Editor
by Robin Schmidt, LWVLA Vice-President
La Crosse Tribune, August 6, 2020
While Aug. 18, 2020, is the date on which we celebrate the centennial for women’s right to vote, it is, in reality, the celebration of white women’s right to vote.
Many efforts to limit African-Americans' right to vote persisted for another 45 years throughout the country, especially in the south. Poll taxes, literacy tests and other bureaucratic efforts were used to keep black women, in particular, from voting.
On Aug. 6, 1965, President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act that abolished those types of discriminatory voting measures.
The legislation also provided for the appointment of federal examiners to register voters and required the federal government to pre-approve changes to voting practices or procedures in areas that were “covered” as defined by a formula stipulated in the law.
According to Ourdocuments.gov, “By the end of 1965, a quarter of a million new black voters had been registered, one-third by federal examiners.”
So on Aug. 6, the League of Women Voters recognizes the importance of all women having the right to vote and celebrates those who worked to make this happen.
Not only do Black Lives Matter, but black votes matter and we encourage all eligible citizens to register and vote in the upcoming elections. Visit myvote.wi.gov or lwvlacrosse.org for more information on how to register and vote.
Celebrating the 19th Amendment, a Letter to the Editor
by Mary Nugent, LWVLA President
La Crosse Tribune, August 23, 2020
100 years ago bells rang and women celebrated the hard-fought ratification of the 19th Amendment. Since the founding of this country, women have fought for the right to be equally represented in their governance. Finally, in 1920, after decades of suffragist protests and marches, of being beaten and jailed, of being ridiculed and spat upon, women were granted the right to vote.
We know now that the 19th was just a start to the struggle for equality. Immediately after passage, some states enacted barriers to the vote such as poll taxes, literacy tests and knowledge quizzes. Asian, Native American and Black women had to demand additional law changes in order to be able practice their right to suffrage. For some, this took another 45 years, until passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act in 1965. Still today, the fight for equal pay, representation and social parity continues.
But for now, let’s celebrate the positive changes that the 19th Amendment fostered. American women can now own property, have credit, choose a career, and be heard in courts, all impossible in 1920.
Celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment at noon on August 26, with the League of Women Voters of the La Crosse Area as we ring bells, toot horns and shout hurrah throughout our community. Take a moment to remember those remarkable suffragists who fought long and hard to make their voices heard. And on November 3, make your voice ring out and vote.
Mary appeared in a story broadcast on WKBT, News 8000, to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment. She tells the story of Ada James's request to her father which resulted in Wisconsin's being the first state to officially ratify. View here.