By Dean Danielle Conway
The following are Dean Conway’s remarks from the Maine Women’s Equality Day March on August 26, 2017.
When I think about the 19th Amendment, I think about women who are strong and steadfast; women who know the value of a collective sisterhood. Women who unconditionally support and uplift women and girls – as well, and as much as they support their husbands, brothers, and sons – embody the word sisterhood.
We have great teachers in those women who came before us. Women who courageously hurdled many an obstacle marching for equality and justice. These women also had the foresight and vision to create paths for those of us coming on their heels.
Eleanor Holmes Norton once wrote “women who came before us were activists before there was activism, and feminists when none could be found.” We know these courageous women, many of whom were abolitionists, who dedicated their lives to woman suffrage:
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Alice Paul.
These women rallied for justice, equality, and the full potential of our American democracy.
Their lives and their losses have much to offer us at a time when our nation is so polarized. Some of our brothers and sisters rightly speak of being part of a forgotten America. I and many others understand the intense pain caused by this casting aside.
Our collective history with fighting for freedom and suffrage – from blood-soaked battles over slavery and states’ rights, to protests and litigation over questions of citizenship and enfranchisement, and a national reform movement in response to Jim Crow’s voracious rampage on black bodies and minds – provides us a blueprint for being triumphant over inhumanity.
Women’s suffrage was achieved on August 18, 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 19th Amendment states:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The 19th Amendment reaffirms what was known then and what we know now about the core value of this nation – that fair and equal participation in the political process defines our American Democracy. Thank you.