Nineteenth and Equal Rights Amendment

When women in New York State won the right to vote in 1917, they changed the national political landscape. New York was not the first state to give women the vote, but it was a tipping point for the suffrage movement. In August 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. It is also important to note that while legally entitled to vote, black women were effectively denied voting rights in numerous Southern states until 1965.

Movements to end inequality have no beginning and no end, but rather ebb and flow in waves. The strategic decision to focus solely on gaining the vote and drop the issues like wage equity, legal reform, and body rights for which nineteenth century women had been working had consequences. The League of Women Voters emerged out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, powerfully determined to get women to vote in an educated way, but the organized momentum to push for specific reforms for women had been lost. While an Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1924, no grass-roots movement existed to push it forward. Although the 1960-70 wave of feminism picked up the banner, women citizens of the United States today still do not have equal rights guaranteed in the Constitution, ninety-three years after the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment.

The resolution proposing the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified August 18, 1920, and grants a woman's right to vote. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Badge worn by Alice Stone Blackwell as a delegate to the League of Women Voters 3rd Annual Convention and Pan-American Conference of Women held in Baltimore, Maryland April 20-30, 1922. In 1920 the National American Woman Suffrage Association became the League of Women Voters with Carrie Chapman Catt as its first president. It was formed to help educate newly enfranchised women. Courtesy of National Museum of American History.

This clipping shows advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment as they wait for President Reagan to leave the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in October 1981. Courtesy of Temple University.