Let's honor the suffragists that helped secure the 19th Amendment by voting, protecting the right to vote
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Today marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, fulfilling the promise that “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.” The culmination of decades of tireless activism by pioneers of the women’s suffrage movement is celebrated today to honor their courage and to remind us that we are not done.

The suffrage movement was an imperfect movement towards women’s equal rights. The struggle for the right to vote was interlaced with racism, and historical narratives minimized the role of Black suffragists in the fight for women’s equality. While most point to the Seneca Falls Convention as the suffrage movement’s starting point, the roots stem from the abolition movement, where many of the early suffragists were active.

While we celebrate the women who fought for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we know for women of color the fight did not stop in 1920. In the United States, Native Americans gained citizenship with the passage of the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, but still faced obstacles to casting their ballots for decades thereafter. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese immigrants from becoming citizens and voters until 1943, while Hispanic Americans, similarly, endured barriers and threats of violence at the polls. Due to Jim Crow laws and other exclusionary practices, Black women and men could not exercise their right to vote nationwide until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As a Black woman, I am proud to say that the women of yesterday who marched, protested, picketed, and rallied led the struggle for the voiceless in order to have a more perfect union.


And still today, the fight for equality is far from over. Voter suppression efforts ranging from voter ID laws, inaccessible polling locations, disinformation campaigns, and voter roll purges continue to disproportionately impact communities of color. These tactics received a boost when the Voting Rights Act was weakened by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder – stripping key voter protection provisions and renewing decades-long attacks on voting rights. Today, we are witnessing yet another attack on our voting rights through the devastating effects of the Trump administration’s manipulation of the United States Postal Service to disenfranchise voters. As a 30-year veteran of the Postal Service, I am deeply disturbed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice Biden nominates two picks to replace members of US Postal Service board Postal Service loss nearly halved MORE’s actions that threaten to deny the ability of eligible Americans to cast their ballot by mail in the upcoming elections.

Together, we must carry on the suffragists’ fight for access to the ballot box and combat the ongoing voter suppression efforts that undermine our democracy. An attack on our right to vote is an attack on our democracy. That is why the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the John LewisJohn LewisWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Obama, Dave Chappelle nominated in same Grammy category Progressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign MORE Voting Rights Act of 2020 and the HEROES Act, which includes $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service and $3.6 billion in election administration funding. Despite the House voting on these two bills months ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (R-Ky.) refuses to take action, and instead promotes further voter suppression.

Access to the ballot box is what drives change in our communities. Today, more than 68 million women vote in elections because of the courageous suffragists who never gave up the fight for equality. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us honor the legacy of the suffragists before us by exercising and protecting the sacred right to vote that they fought so hard to secure.

Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence represents Michigan’s 14th District serves as the co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus in the 116th Congress.