Thanks to controversy about planned centennial events in 2020, awareness of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution is increasing. This wasn’t the intent of those who circulated petitions and made critical videos about the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution over the past few years.
There’s an urgent need for more instruction about the first wave or “suffrage” movement in our schools. It may be an adolescent prank that in the past some male college students made a series of videos where their female associates were asked if they’d sign a petition eliminating the 19th Amendment from the US Constitution. Young women signed and the joke was on them. Students from a wide range of backgrounds across the nation were never taught about the suffrage movement, so it wouldn’t be expected they’d anticipate being set up as a cynical joke.
WE’RE GOING TO CELEBRATE THE 19TH AMENDMENT. LET’S LEARN ABOUT IT!
The times beg for an understanding and respect for the difficult, uphill, and dedicated work associated with US women winning the right to vote, as well as the contamination of many because of a racist system within which the first wave of women’s rights movement operated. This hasn’t changed today. The social and economic system has made reforms in its basic hierarchy and operation since 1920, but the same issues and challenges play a part in social movements today.
Many school textbooks still represent the first wave of the women’s rights movement with little more than a photo and a caption. Under the circumstances, the push back isn’t surprising. I’ve heard it said, “All our problems in this country started when women started voting.” Oh, that it should be so simple. Blame, shame, and humiliation have never been useful tactics for personal and social change.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED AND TRAUMA TO BE HEALED
Both boys and girls haven’t been taught much at all about this extraordinary civil rights struggle, the first wave of the women’s rights movement, that took 72 years from 1848 to 1920. It was a decentralized movement where behind the scenes many agendas and political platforms played out their special interests, for better or worse.
There are many lessons to be learned, and traumatic wounds to be healed from the past. It’s one thing to tell the whole story without apology. And yet another to hurl labels, accusations, and paint tens of thousands of activists with a broad brush of condemnation. The first wave movement was complicated, and all activists didn’t follow one party line. There’s the good and the bad operating and an ever-present tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water.
NEWS FROM THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
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