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The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus

News

Women's Equality Day marks 90 years of voting rights

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010

Next Thursday, Aug. 26 marks the 90th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that granted women the right to vote.

The nonpartisan League of Women Voters—founded the same year women achieved this right—celebrates Women’s Equality Day by remembering this historic achievement and looking forward to greater civic participation and healthy debate on the issues that matter most to our communities.

On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee State Representative Harry Burn heeded his mother's advice and provided the one vote needed to pass the suffrage amendment in that state. His vote made Tennessee the 36th state to ratify it, guaranteeing that the Nineteenth Amendment would become part of the U.S. Constitution. Aug. 26 is the day that ratification was certified by the U.S. Secretary of State and, since 1971, has been designated by Congress as Women's Equality Day.

“On this Women’s Equality Day, we take time to recognize not only the historic Nineteenth Amendment, but the tremendous progress we have made over the last 90 years in expanding and protecting voting rights,” said Barbi Crabill, the Metropolitan Columbus League’s vice president for voter service. “Generation after generation, the work of the League of Women Voters across the country is a testament to the incredible legacy of the Nineteenth Amendment.”

Today, the League’s membership and leadership include both women and men. “Our work is not done,” said Scott Britton, vice president for advocacy. “As we face new and even greater challenges as a nation, as a state, and across central Ohio, the League continues to recruit and organize active, local leaders who are dedicated to safeguarding democracy. These leaders are engaging elected officials as we work together to find viable solutions.” 

At heart, the League remains a grassroots membership organization directed by the consensus of its members. “The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus believes that the hands-on work of an engaged citizenry can and does lead to civic improvement at all levels of government,” said Mim Brierley, vice president for membership. “Women’s Equality Day is a celebration of such a basic part of our democratic process—the right to vote—and the opportunities to channel that power into real, lasting change, starting at the grassroots level.”

Throughout the year, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus has marked the 90th anniversary of the League’s founding (officially Feb. 14) with events and proclamations from local governments. The yearlong celebration culminates Sep. 21 during a showing of Iron Jawed Angels at the Arena Grand Theatre. The film, starring Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston, documents the struggle by suffragists to achieve the right to vote.

“As a League member, you have the opportunity to have a profound, direct, and positive impact on the issues that matter most to our community,” Crabill said. “And what better day than the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to get involved?”