Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Voting Rights

Tess Bower, Writer

Women gained the right to vote on August 18, 1920 thanks to the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. After generations of women protested, marched, wrote, lectured, and fought for their voting rights, this “radical” amendment was passed by Congress on June 4th, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920.

The 19th Amendment required 3/4 of the states to ratify it; as the 36th state to ratify the amendment, Tennessee brought the country to its goal. Then, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26th, 1920.

To celebrate the centennial anniversary of this great milestone, let’s look at a few of the many women’s suffrage activists.

Susan B Anthony “Wikimedia Commons”

Susan B. Anthony played a key role in women’s suffrage rights. Anthony co-founded the American Equal Rights Association in 1866. She advocated for voting rights for both women and African Americans. Anthony was put into jail multiple times as a result of her advocacy. Unfortunately, Susan B. Anthony did not live to see women gain the right to vote, but her work laid a strong foundation for the next generation of suffragists and advocates. 


Courtesy of Library of Congress

One of those next-generation women was Alice Paul. Paul pushed for the 19th Amendment to be passed and, like Anthony, was jailed for her advocacy. She participated in a hunger strike to protest the horrible prison conditions, which resulted in her sent to a mental hospital where she was fed raw eggs through a feeding tube. These hurdles did not stop Alice Paul however. She went on to lead the National Women’s Party after the 19th Amendment was passed, and worked with civil rights leaders for the inclusion of women under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.




Another key female reformer, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, was a fierce activist her entire life. She grew up with her parents, who owned a refuge for fugitive slaves. Shadd Cary became the first Africa

Sign honoring Mary Ann Shadd Cary (Pikasa)

n American woman in North America to publish a newspaper. Her newspaper was entitled The Provincial Freeman, and functioned as an outlet for her abolition  advocacy. Mary Ann Shadd Cary helped to recruit African American soldiers for the Civil War and founded a school for the children of freed slaves. She taught in her school during the day and attended law school at night. Mary became one of the very first African American female law graduates in the US in 1883. After the 15th Amendment of the Constitution was passed (granting African American men the right to vote), Mary became an advocate for women’s suffrage rights.

These women, among many others, fought for women’s right to vote. A century after their labor came to fruition, it is important to look back and remember the effort these women put into the fight for equal rights. Without their courage of, the equality we have today would not be guaranteed.