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Women’s Right to Vote — More Than a History Lesson

By Autumn Kimbley - 2020-08-31

As we look ahead to important milestones across our country — from the presidential election in November to the possible reopening of schools in the coming weeks — August 2020 gives us a chance to look back as well.  

This month marks a historic centennial: the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote. Congress has designated August 2020 as National Women's Suffrage Month.  

Micron’s recognition of this milestone 

Because of our commitment to diversity and social justice, Micron commemorates this milestone of democracy and its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. 

This month, we have an opportunity to reconnect with this significant history of American civic engagement and responsibility. Let’s not forget that Susan B. Anthony said, “Either the ballot box is a right or it is not.” 

As we mark this journey, we also recognize that diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) are business imperatives for Micron. The dimensions of experience that all men and women bring to the workforce are a source of innovation and lead to success.  

Vice President of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Sharawn Connors said, “With the right to vote, women’s voices were recognized. They were included in our civic conversation equal to men. That’s what Micron’s DEI initiatives are all about — creating parity, so everyone feels welcome and encouraged to share their ideas equally. When all voices are heard, we get better solutions for Micron’s customers.” 

A little history

To move forward, we also have to recognize past achievements: On May 21, 1919, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 19th Amendment, aptly named the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote.  

Following the legislative process, the U.S. Senate approved the amendment two weeks later, and the 19th Amendment went to the states, where it had to be ratified by three-fourths of the (then-48) states to be added to the Constitution. On Aug. 18, 1920, with a slim vote of 50-47, Tennessee became the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment.  

Alice Paul, a vocal leader of the women’s suffrage movement, said that year, “It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun.” She went on to author the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. It took another 49 years to pass in Congress and be sent to the states for ratification. Within the seven-year window, only 35 of the 38 states necessary passed it. So it has not yet been officially adopted as an amendment to the Constitution. Proving Paul’s point, the fight for full equality is not yet won. 

Historical highlights

The women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. began earlier than you might think. Here’s a summary of the events in this movement:

Suffragists begin their organized fight for women’s equality in 1848 when they demand the right to vote during the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. For the next 72 years, women leaders lobby, march, picket and protest for the right to the ballot.

1861 to 1865
The American Civil War disrupts suffrage activity as women divert their focus to war work.

Susan B. Anthony is arrested and brought to trial in Rochester, New York, for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election. At the same time, Sojourner Truth demands a ballot at a polling booth in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is turned away.

Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party becomes the first national political party to adopt a women’s suffrage plank.

1918 to 1920
World War I slows the suffrage campaign as suffragists pause activism in favor of war work. This decision proves to be a prudent one as it adds yet another reason why women deserve the vote.

August 26, 1920
The 19th Amendment is ratified as part of the U.S. Constitution, forever protecting American women’s right to vote.

Native Americans didn’t have the opportunity to vote until four years after the 19th Amendment when the 1924 Snyder Act granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S.

August 6, 1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act, which expanded the 14th and 15th amendments by banning racial discrimination in voting practices.

Stay connected

Want to catch up on your history charting women’s suffrage in the U.S.? Check out a few historical highlights from the Women’s Vote Centennial website. It offers a blog, history quizzes and a section for kids. There is an intriguing blog post about the story of Indigenous women’s participation in the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Autumn Kimbley

Autumn Kimbley

Autumn Kimbley is a communications lead for Micron’s Environment, Social and Governance programs, including diversity, equality and inclusion; sustainability; and corporate giving. She writes narratives that support engagement and community.