Anthony Led The Way

PATRICK AFB, FL -- On Aug. 26, Women's Equality Day will mark the 86th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, this legislation granted women the right to vote and ended the long struggle by women seeking that right.

Interestingly, near the end of the late 19th century feminist movement, it was the service of women in the military and the defense works that gave a huge push to the eventual passage of the Amendment. In 1918 President Wilson asked the U.S. Senate and House to recognize the contributions made by American women in the War. An often cited quote on this subject highlights President Wilson posing the question: "Shall we admit women only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?"

Thirty-six states were needed to ratify the Amendment in order for it to become federal law. States in the western region of the U.S. joined the movement early on; Illinois was the first in June, 1919; Tennessee was the 36th in August, 1920. Even though the 19th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution in 1920, Florida did not actually ratify it until May 1969.

In 1971, at the urging of Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY), Congress designated Aug. 26 as Women's Equality Day to commemorate the passage of this important amendment, and to celebrate women's continuing efforts toward equality.

To take an online quiz about Women's Equality Day, go to http://www.nwhp.org/events/equality-day/equalityday-quiz.html.